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ST. John's house, clerkenwell, e.c. 




9^ <:fo?2^ 



John Moucell, Esq., lived in South Lambeth ; no 
one exactly knew how. 

At the end of each year certainly no one could 
have told less accurately than himself how rent, rates, 
taxes, had been met and a horde of ravening creditors 

Of two things, however, he felt quite convinced, 
viz. that not a man in England worked harder, and 
that no canal horse was worse treated. 

This was his normal state of mind. When worldly 
affairs ran pretty smoothly, which they did on rare 
occasions, he said, •' The age of miracles is not 

Nevertheless, he looked well, slept well. People 
meeting him in society never imagined he found 
life a hard struggle ; and yet in truth such was the 

When a man, who has no income derivable from 
the sweet security of Consols or any other security, 
is the proud father of nine living children, all doing 
nothing and all costing money, existence must needs 


2 Did He Deserve It? 

be a struggle, and it spoke well for his courage and 
industry that the weary story of never-ending, always- 
beginning difficulties was not graven on his face. 

The world, generally given to take good views of 
things, called him a *' literary man." In reality he 
was a '' literary hack." 

At five-and-twenty he had, like many another, great 
expectations ; at four-and-forty he thought he under- 
stood where, when, and why he " ran off the rails " 
and spoilt his life. 

It was a woman, of course. It always is a man or 
a woman who changes for good or for evil some 
person's life — a fact the less extraordinary when we 
remember there are but men and women in the 
world, and not about a thousand different sexes, as we 
might be sometimes tempted to imagine. 

At five-and-twenty most men, whether wise or 
foolish, are imaginative and speculative. At four- 
and-forty all men not fools are philosophic. 

Mr. Moucell was not a fool, and consequently 

"It might have been worse," he reflected, when 
considering the wreck he had made of his future. 
'' She was utterly respectable." 

Yes, utterly respectable, and fond and foolish into 
the bargain ; and in his heart of hearts — if, indeed, 
the daily grind of life had left him any heart at all — 
Mr. Moucell still kept a lingering love memory of the 
meek, blue-eyed, fair-haired girl he wooed and 
married when " all the vv^orld was young." 

According to Mr. Moucell, the founder of his family 
had come to England with the Conqueror — a state- 
ment hard to prove, perhaps, but harder still to 

Did He Deserve It? 3 

disprove, because, as one non-believer in the literary 
man's high lineage judicially observed when summing 
up the pros and cons, *' a lot of rank-and-file, besides 
camp followers and such like, must have landed here 
with William." 

Poor Mr. Moucell never heard this nasty remark, 
any more than he heard another, even more dis- 
paraging, namely — that " it was all tommy-rot about 
the Normans ; the family name was Mussel, and they 
came originally from Billingsgate." 

There must be some sort of foundation even for a 
lie, so very likely the Moucell legend had been built 
upon more than a shadow of truth. 

History held no record of the name ; but names in 
the course of nigh upon a thousand years change. 

It v/as said that just as people lose luggage when 
travelling, or small household goods during the 
progress of a "flitting," so the Moucells had by some 
means, while rushing through many centuries, got rid 
of a " de," if not a " la," and certainly were robbed of 
a final " e." 

Mr. Moucell often spoke sadly of those " pilferings 
by the way," but when asked by his children why he 
did not repair them, replied he had thought of doing 
so, but it was an awkward course to take " in the 
event of any property re- verting to the family." 

After much research he had discovered that a 
Moucell Abbey existed in Henry the Vlllth's time, 
while during the reign of Mary a certain statesman 
dated letters from Moucel Manor, near York. 

What stronger proof of former greatness could 
reasonable children desire ? None : and so the young 
Moucells felt the blood which had been flowing for 

B 2 

4 Did He Deserve It? 

centuries through the Moucell veins tingle when they 
thought of the broad lands which once, no doubt, were 
theirs, and which might be theirs again. 

" Not a question of his breeding, sir," declared 
a very Radical shopkeeper when talking Mr. Moucell's 
status over with a somewhat sceptical customer ; 
" he has such an air with him ; " and the remark was 
quite true. Mr. Moucell had an air of being much 
grander and richer and cleverer than was really the 
case, for spite of all the mud he had toiled through, 
he never forgot, he never could forget, the days when, 
but for his own folly, he might have been somebody 
very well known indeed. 

Like the scent of the roses celebrated so long ago, 
that memory ''clung to him still," and gave a certain 
air of distinction to his manner, impossible to 
describe, but which, for all that, impressed everyone 
who came in contact with him. 

The son of a land agent in Lincolnshire who had 
the great good luck to live in those fine old times 
when votes were bought and sold as freely as onions, 
and fetched much better prices, money was found to 
give him a sound education, and finally send him to 
college, where those supposed to know said he was 
sure to make his mark. 

The Marquis of Fenland, to whom the elder 
Moucell had been very useful—" done a lot of dirty 
work for him " was the discourteous phrase used by 
political adversaries when speaking of various services 
rendered — took an interest in the youth which did 
not cause the Oxford prophets to think less highly of 
his future prospects. 

He was asked to Marsh Hall, where being hand- 

Did He Deserve It? 5 

some and adaptable, possessed of a good address and 
a pretty knack of turning out society verses, he won 
golden opinions and received another invitation and 
yet another, his good fortune culminating in being 
selected to accompany Viscount Reedpont on his 
travels when that delicate heir to the Marshland 
estates was ordered abroad. 

Lord Fenland had his own plans concerning the 
clever young man when he returned, and Lady 
Fenland her plans also. She was blessed with a step- 
daughter, whose fortune would be but small, the 
noble Marquis having put more money into elections 
than he was ever likelv to get out of them — and the 
lady consequently nad not gone off matrimonially — 
indeed, it seemed as if for some reason no one cared 
to ask her to go at all. Now, Lord Fenland could 
push on young Moucell if he married the Lady 
Patricia — push him on very fast indeed ; therefore it 
was decided between the august couple that when 
the foreign tour came to an end the other little 
matter should be put in train. 

" I think the dear girl likes him," said Lord 

" I am convinced she does,'' was the answer. 

*' It will be better, perhaps, to throw out no hint 
on the subject — " This not as a suggestion, but 
tentatively, in order to ascertain what his more astute 
wife's views were. 

'* Unless we wish nothing to come of it," replied 
the Marchioness, and accordingly silence was the 
order of the day. 

But no one can guard against accidents ; and the 
accident which happened in this case chanced to be 

6 Did He Deserve It ? 

that John Moucell wrote a book — but a little one, 
though big enough to wreck a man's life. He had 
kept a diary while travelling, which he put into more 
readable form at the last city where the travellers 
halted, and sold before they reached England. 

The work was dedicated to Viscount Reedpont; 
and, beautifully got up, gladdened the eyes of Lord 
and Lady Fenland almost simultaneously with the 
sight of their son. 

Lady Patricia read the book, and, perhaps because 
she felt much, said little. At all events, her 
manner struck Mr. Moucell — who, like many other 
young authors, hungered and thirsted for praise — as 

The Lady Patricia had an aunt — her mother's only 
sister — poor, proud, and even more astute than the 
Marchioness of Fenland, who, having divined the 
plan that was on foot, forthwith determined her niece 
should not wed a " mere writing^ man." so she 
mentally styled the distinguished author. 

When he came to London, therefore, from Marsh 
Hall, in order to arrange about another book, she 
asked him often to her house in Hans Place, flattered 
him to his heart's content, and gave him plenty of 
opportunities of seeing her companion, poor little 
Nanny Grey, whose big, innocent eyes soon grew full 
of love and inexpressible admiration for Viscount 
Reedpont's clever friend. 

The rising young man fell into the trap, and, 
believing that he was old enough, great enough, and 
strong enough to do what he liked, married Miss 
Grey, and only realized the mistake he had made 
when his father sarcastically congratulated him 

Did He Deserve It? ;r 

on having contracted an alliance with the daughter 
of a bankrupt cheesemonger, and forbade him to 
come home. 

That was the beginning ; the parental clarion note 
heralded a burst of discordant music. 

" A man must pay for his whistle ; " and if ever a 
man had to pay for a whistle cunningly placed in his 
way, it was John Moucell. 

What a war he waged for years ! What a battle he 
fought, without friends, without money, without con- 
nection — ay, and often without hope ! He who had 
once stood with the ball at his foot, stood then burdened 
only with a fond, helpless wife, who did nothing but 
bring children into a world which did not want them. 
Once he had believed himself almost one of the old 
nobility — and now he was cast out of that earthly 
paradise ; an author great as Scott or Dickens or 
Thackeray, and his publisher declined any further 
offers of MSS. on the ground that neither the beauti- 
fully got-up book nor its successor had paid ! 

On his marriage the Fenlands sent wedding presents 
— bitter and useless as Dead Sea fruit — but found 
him no post. Viscount Reedpont called at his poor 
lodgings and said, emphatically, " I always thought 
Mrs. Moucell sweetly pretty and as good as gold, and 
all that, but I am afraid you have made a mess of 
it, old fellow." Lady Patricia married a wealthy 
commoner, who in the after-days occasionally asked 
Mr. Moucell to dinner. Mrs. Moucell's patroness 
professed to be indignant about the way she had been 
deceived, and refused at first ever to forgive " poor 
little Nanny Grey," for the nonce transformed into 
" that artful minx ; " and, in short, had it not been for 

8 Did He Deserve It ? 

a widowed aunt of Mrs. Moucell's, the young couple 
must have starved. 

But through it all, through poverty, sickness, mis- 
fortune, the meanest and hardest of work, John 
Moucell never forgot his brief glint of sunshine, his 
happy time of promise, when he lived with the great 
of the land, and acquired that air which so impressed 
one Lambeth shopkeeper. 


Nearly nineteen years had elapsed since his ill- 
starred marriage, and John Moucell was living, as has 
been said, in Lambeth, in one of those excellent 
though modest-looking houses that still stand just 
where they did, though The Lawn which they afore- 
time overlooked has been converted into a public 

South Lambeth Road, free of trams, was a quieter 
and a nicer thoroughfare then than it is likely ever to 
be again. It had an air of repose which belied reality ; 
for what with the railway at the back, and rattling 
cabs and heavy carts in front, noise ceased not by 
night or day Nevertheless, there was a look of 
country about the locality that seemed pleasant. The 
long gardens, divided in many cases by privet hedges, 
gave an aspect of distance and retirement to the 
houses ; the fine old trees that had been growing 
in The Lawn probably ever since the Wandsworth 
Road was quite out of town— even the grounds sur- 
rounding Beaufoy's manufactory — irresistibly recalled 
a time when noted people lived within walking dis- 
tance of the City, and the Tradescants, Ashmoles, 
Needhams, Childs, and many another goodly family 
resided in the once pleasant suburb where when 
Elizabeth was Queen, game of all sorts abounded, and 

10 Did He Deserve It? 

rare plants and wild flowers, such as the botanist 
might now search for in vain, even though he went 
much further afield, grew like weeds, which in those 
former days they were accounted. 

Mr. Moucell was delighted with the neighbourhood, 
at all events. Prior to going there it might truly have 
been said he almost boxed the compass while trying 
to find a suitable residence in an accessible locality, 
and it was quite by accident he lit upon that good 
house at a reasonable rent, in what he considered a 
desirable position. 

" The very place for a man who has to live near the 
newspaper offices ! Why, I consider I am only ten 
minutes from the Strand and Fleet Street," a figure 
of speech which meant he was close to Nine Elms 
Pier — since abandoned — and still closer to Vauxhall 
Station. " Most convenient," he went on, " for Par- 
liament, theatres, churches, schools, everything." 

And the house was convenient also — four rooms on 
the ground floor, four rooms on the first, with a 
wilderness of basement and plenty of accommodation 
next the roof. Garden in rear, where a row of pollard 
lime trees put out delicate leaves at the first breath of 
spring, just as if there were no smoke from passing 
engines and no dust in all the land. The grass 
grew green there, too, and Virginia creeper climbed 
over brick walls, and clothed their bareness with 
vivid emerald tints early in the year, and gorgeous 
colouring when late autumn heralded the coming of 

After the narrow dwellings and the pent-up streets 
in which he had previously perforce lived, Mr. Moucell 
no doubt did find that roomy house, with its cheerful 

Did He Deserve It ? 1 1 

outlook, pleasant ; and though it might be " out of 
the way " for his friends, it did not prove out of the 
way for him. 

It was on a fine morning in September, 1876, that 
he stood outside the open door of his library — he had 
taken the back dining-room for a study — talking to 
Mr. Thomas A. Gerant, junior partner in the well- 
known publishing house of Winstone, Wragge and 
Wire, Old Bond Street, which had in its day brought 
out for the delectation of society a larger number of 
foolish and fashionable novels than any other firm in 
the kingdom. 

Some firms have the knack of flourishing and 
spreading for a time like gourds — making a great 
show and apparently occupying a large space in the 
business world — but being destitute of sufficient root, 
when any blight or frost touches them they fade away 
and are gone. It would have fared thus years pre- 
viously with Messrs. Winstone, Wragge and Wire had 
not Mr. Isaac Gerant, a paper manufacturer, come to 
the rescue and given them a little longer lease of life 
than Heaven in its wisdom evidently intended. 

Whether the readers who formerly cared for the 
novels issued by the once " enterprising publishers " 
— see notices of the day — had passed to a land where 
fiction is unknown, or ceased to take an interest in 
the sins and virtues of the Upper Ten, must always 
remain a matter of uncertainty ; only one thing was 
beyond question, viz. that Messrs. Winstone's business 
drifted from month to month, and year to year slowly 
to the bad. The firm had lived long enough. 
" Unless fresh blood could be put in, the case was hope- 
less," said the lawyers. Fresh blood meant money, 

12 Did He Deserve It? 

and Mr. Gerant did not feel disposed to let the once 
popular publishers handle any more of his cash. Fur- 
ther, he was reluctant to lose what he had advanced ; 
so after a little finessing on both sides, he agreed to 
arrange with the few creditors who retained some 
confidence in a sinking concern, and took over the 
business, worthless old debts, equally worthless stock, 
and put in '' my son Tom " as junior partner. 

He had placed out other sons in a somewhat 
similar way — one in a printing business, another as 
a wholesale stationer, a third at a big bookbinding 
establishment, which was at the time dropping to 
pieces. " Now I have provided for Tom," he observed, 
" and with my two eldest in the ' mills,' the deuce is 
in it if we can't make money somehow." 

If " the end crowns the work," Mr. Gerant had 
good reason to be satisfied, for every one of the 
gentlemen above referred to is now managing director, 
at a salary, of his own original business, for the good- 
will of which each received a large amount. The 
Gerants' experiences were unlike some in which sons 
bemoan their fate for not having been born before 
their fathers ! 

It is impossible for any man to foresee everything ; 
but Mr. Gerant looked a long way ahead, and matters 
turned out even better than he hoped. 

" Tom has a taste for reading," he said, " and I think 
ought to make a good publisher." 

Accordingly, when the young man was eight-and- 
twenty he set about trying to put fresh life into 
the dead bones of Messrs. Winstone and Co.'s late 

He had been toiling at this work for two years when 

Did He Deserve It? 13 

Mr. Gerant, senior, chanced to come across Mr. 
Moucell, who had just written an anonymous pam- 
phlet, entitled " Ready Money : a Fallacy," in which 
he sought to prove, and did prove, that credit was the 
life of trade, that credit sent vessels across the ocean, 
shipped freights, was the cause of England's greatness, 
the source of her wealth, her safety as a nation, and 
that all the humbug talked by tradespeople con- 
cerning " payment across the counter '' would, if 
carried into practice, really mean the first nail driven 
into the coffin enclosing the corpse of commercial 

No one respected cash on delivery of copy more 
than Mr. Moucell — a fact Mr. Gerant was destined to 
learn ; indeed, he wrote some telling articles about 
that very time in which he stated a publisher had 
actually spoken of his authors as though they were on 
the same footing with workmen ; an indignity which 
served as a good text whereon to found a sermon con- 
cerning the wrongs suffered by literary bees, which 
sermon wound up by asking why they should be kept 
waiting for their lawful honey. 

The pamphlet Mr. Gerant admired, however, was 
really directed against the Stores, started, as Mr. 
Moucell pointed out, by, and for the express benefit of, a 
class of people who drew their incomes from already 
overburdened taxpayers. It was a theme just to the 
paper-maker's mind, and he never rested till he found 
out who the author was, and cemented a friendship 
with him, the outcome of which resulted in Mr. 
Moucell being appointed '^ literary counsel " to the 
new firm of Winstone, Wragge and Wire. 

He was not salaried — but that might come. Mean- 

14 Did He Deserve It? 

time he got cheques at irregular intervals, and read 
and advised, gave the benefit of his long experience, 
and hoped something permanent would result ; but 
that could scarcely be expected till trade improved, 
which publishers said was as bad in the seventies as it 
had been good in the sixties. 

Old authors were dying, and the new, who have 
since astonished mankind, were at that remote period 
spinning their tops or dressing their dolls, unconscious 
of the greatness to come. 

It was a time when a WRITER, spelt with big 
capitals, would have been received with open arms. 
Readers were getting tired of former things, and 
wanted some fresh sensation. 

" The century is growing old," said Mr. Moucell, 
"and needs to be amused as well as interested ; " but 
neither he nor the century expected what has since 

How thankful Mr. Gerant would have felt had one 
of the young lions, running tame about London now, 
rushed into his office, it is impossible to tell. He 
was weary of mediocrity — of imitators — of men who 
wrote a long way after Thackeray and Dickens, and 
affected George Eliot, and tried to copy L3lton. 

" Oh, for another ' Woman in White ' or an ' Altar 
and the Hearth ' ! " he exclaimed. " Even a second 
Lever would be welcome ; and how we should rejoice 
if anything like — " 

He was but continuing on the library threshold the 
conversation that had been going on inside, yet when 
he pronounced the last word he paused, as though 
some State secret were in progress, for the sound of a 
latch-key turning in the lock caught his ear, and next 

Did He Deserve It? 15 

moment the front door flew wide, and there stepped 
into the hall a girl in the full bloom of youth and 
health, dressed in blue serge trimmed with white, and 
wearing a sailor hat, who came straight on to where 
the two men stood, and said, without the slightest 
embarrassment or self-consciousness, — 

" How-d'ye-do, Mr. Gerant. Good morning, father," 
at the same time first giving the publisher her hand, 
and then holding up her face for Mr. Moucell to kiss. 

It was all so pretty, so natural and so homelike, that 
Mr. Gerant found himself wishing — no, he did not 
wish he were Mr. Moucell, though he considered that 
gentleman an extremely fortunate individual. 

" Have you been out for a morning stroll. Miss 
Moucell ? " he asked. 

'' Yes — into the City," she answered. 

" Surely you did not walk all that distance ? " 

" Indeed, I was only too glad to have the chance 
I went along the Enbankment, and the river looked 

^' Country people would not believe we could grow 
such roses in London, Mr. Moucell," remarked Mr. 
Gerant enigmatically — " true damask." 

The girl understood, and made a little impatient 
gesture. " I walked fast back," she explained — " ran 
part of the way, indeed — it is such a delightful morn- 
ing," after which she went into a room opposite, 
leaving her father and friend to finish their interrupted 

It is not very easy to join the thread of a conversa- 
tion abruptly snapped, but Mr. Gerant proved equal 
even to that feat. 

'* I am tired of waiting for good manuscripts," he 

i6 Did He Deserve It? 

said. " By-the-bye, I sent you a lot on the other 
day, have you been able to look at them ? " 

"Not yet," was the reply. "I hope to do so 

*'I rather liked a letter that came with one of 
them — ^but a letter is not much to go by." 

" Not much," agreed Mr. Moucell, who knew the 
difference that often exists between a letter and its 
writer ; " but do not be discouraged : another genius 
is about due now. For my part, every night I expect 
to be astonished next morning by the news that some 
young man from Shropshire has arrived in London to 
put all our noses out of joint." 

" I wish he would make haste, then." 
" All in good time. There have always been these 
periods of depression. Literature has its winters, like 
everything else." 

"I think it is high time spring appeared," per- 
sisted Mr. Gerant ; '' but then I suppose a lot of 
geniuses will be budding up all at once." 

" We cannot have too many ; but alas ! the supply 
is limited." 

"Very limited indeed, so far as I can judge," after 
which there was a movement as if Mr. Gerant were 
intending to take his departure. 

" I will walk to the gate with you," said Mr. Moucell, 
who liked to pay this small attention to his more 
especial friends ; besides, that short stroll in the open 
air seemed a change after so much study. 

In the course of such strolls, moreover, agreeable 
things had often happened, kindly words been spoken, 
pleasant promises made. Perhaps he hoped for a 
recurrence of such words or promises on the occasion 

Did He Desf:rve It ? 17 

in question ; but if he did, he was disappointed, for 
when he reached the road Mr. Gerant merely said 
'' Good-day," and bent his steps in the direction of 
Vauxhall. Mr, Moucell, with a cloud on his brow, 
sauntered slowly back, and re-entered the house, when 
he was instantly joined by his daughter, Joscelyne, 
who greeted him with, " The young man has come, 

'' What young man ? " asked Mr. Moucell, be- 

" The young man from Shropshire you were speaking 
of just now — but he is Irish — " 

" I do not understand, dear — " 

" I sat up last night reading one of the manuscripts 
you gave me, and had another couple of hours this 
morning. I could not quite finish, but oh — it is 
splendid ! " 

Mr. Moucell smiled, the sad, incredulous smile of 
one who, though he fain would hope, has been taught 
by bitter experience that hope is delusive. 

" Splendid," repeated his daughter, with a tri- 
umphant little nod. 

" I must look at this great work," he said indul- 

" Yes, do ; to-day — now ! " exclaimed the girl ; and 
disappearing for a minute, she returned with a brown- 
paper parcel, which she placed on her father's writing- 


When children have been nourished on " copy " and 
weaned on '' proof," when their baby ears drink in 
the strange language which abounds with such mystic 
sounds as "trans," " caps," " pars," "delete," " itals," 
and so forth, instead of the inspiriting music of " Hey- 
diddle-diddle " and other kindred melodies ; when 
they find early that a " printer's devil " has not hoofs 
or horns, but is an imp like unto themselves ; when 
they understand young the meaning of" manuscript" 
and " revise," they learn more readily than their 
differently-reared fellows, who^, stumble across the 
alphabet as if it were a very rough bit of country, find 
traps set in words even of one syllable, and water 
their pot-hooks with tears. 

From their earliest youth the children of authors 
take " headers " into the depths of literature with as 
little fear as a boy born by river or sea will plunge 
into the current and fight the waves. In the same 
way other children of a tender age, accustomed from 
infancy to horses and crawling amongst stamping feet 
and stamping legs given to lash out, will mount bare- 
backed a steed men great on 'Change might look on 

Habit is second nature. It accustoms people to 
most things, except want of money ; and thus it was 

Did He Deserve It ? 19 

that the young Moucells, who had been brought up 
among books and book-producers, insensibly acquired 
the same sort of knowledge of their surroundings as 
a rat-catcher's son does of the habits of ferrets. 

Not that any one of them showed a leaning towards 
authorship. So far as Mr. Moucell could judge, their 
talents — if they indeed possessed talents — tended in 
quite an opposite direction. Nevertheless, almost 
ever since they could speak plainly, they had 
criticized authors and their works with an artless 
frankness which some of the persons so distinguished 
might scarcely have thought pleasant, for where one 
story was occasionally pronounced " stunning," 
twenty w^ere characterized as "bosh," "foolery," 
"jolly rot," and " stuff; " indeed, most of the novels 
and boys' books written about that period of the 
world's history were pooh-poohed by Mr., Moucell's 
censorious young folks, who would have thought 
but little of a new Shakspere, had one arisen, and 
less of the old one, if he could have come to life 

As they " grew into years," however — and it is 
amazing how quickly children age after they enter 
their teens — a change began to take place in their 
opinions, and this change was publicly inaugurated 
by the eldest son, who said one day, — 

" I am beginning to comprehend how it was that 
his contemporaries could see anything in ' Paradise 
Lost.' " 

The observation fell among the family like a bomb, 
and produced a profound sensation. 

None, however, ventured on dissent, or asked for 
information, because it was well known Philip 

c 2 

20 Did He Deserve It? 

Moucell would have argued till he turned black 
in the face over any position he pleased to take up. 

As for Joscelyne, who for some time had been 
secretly drifting away from old landmarks, she heard 
her brother's admission without surprise. She was 
ever considered the most omnivorous reader in the 
house. To say she devoured books could only be 
deemed a most inadequate way of describing her 
mode of proceeding, for she gulped down whole 
volumes at a time, and then opened her mouth for 

The " boa-constrictor," Philip called her ; but this 
was a libel on the boa, which gives its food time to 
digest, whereas the girl had no sooner swallowed one 
literary meal than she was ready for another. 

'' She would read sermons rather than not read 
anything," said her brothers with disgust, religious 
or instructive books being the point where they drew 
the line. " It is all the same to her, providing it's 

Well, not exactly ; for naturally she preferred 
lighter literature ; but there was some truth in the 
statement, nevertheless. 

Still, even this voracious appetite at last grew 
dainty, about the time when, though stiU young, she 
began to put aside childish things. 

It all came about at a little evening party, when 
she chanced to hear one lady say to another, '* Poor 
Mr. Moucell, what a hard life his is ! " 

" A hard life ! " Joscelyne took the remark home 
with her, brooded over it, and then bethought her of 
what she might do. 

From that time Mr. Moucell's study was as though 

Did He Desreve It? 21 

kept by a fairy — his papers were in perfect order, his 
books always just where he had left them ; periodical 
clearings-up, which authors regard — and rightly — 
with horror, came to be evils unknown. Everything 
was always neat and in place, yet he never saw 
anyone at work, or found even a scrap of paper had 
been meddled with — a state of affairs as new as 

And so with other matters : she thought of and for 
her father, waited on him, anticipated his wishes, 
looked up passages, copied paragraphs, was permitted 
eventually to read first proofs over and correct any 
mistake which caught her eye, and at last — oh, 
crowning happiness ! — when manuscripts began to 
pour in, Mr. Moucell, one joyful morning, selecting 
two which looked particularly unpromising, handed 
them to the girl, saying laughingly, — 

" You might glance over these and tell me what 
you think of them." 

From small causes great results often spring, and 
those words, so thoughtlessly spoken, produced far- 
reaching effects. 

At the end of a couple of years Mr. Moucell's 
daughter was as much reader as that gentleman 
himself. True, he did not delegate his authority, or 
play again at pitch- and-toss with his fortunes, or 
betray the trust Messrs. Gerant reposed in him, but 
at the same time Joscelyne was a good working 
partner, who made the labour of wading through side 
after side of often very bad writing much easier than 
it would have been but for the simple analysis of plot 
which she provided with each book. She had grown 
expert, reHable ; her previous reading, desultory 

22 Did He Deserve It ? 

though it had been, furnished a soHd foundation 
on which to build a taste for better things, and 
Joscelyne's taste by the time she was seventeen could 
but be considered as critical and reliable as her 

Further, she was never tired, never cross ; she 
could sit up late and rise early ; she could return from 
a long walk, and start out again, brisk and willing, 
within five minutes. 

*' She is my very right hand," said Mr. Moucell one 
day in a burst of enthusiasm. 

Mr. Gerant, to whom the remark was made, 
answered aloud, *' he felt sure of it," and secretly 
wished she were his right hand also. 

He was in love with the girl ; but his suit did not 
progress rapidly, for Joscelyne slurred over or 
turned aside every hesitating compliment — a line of 
conduct which won his entire approval, because, as 
he was wont to tell anyone who cared to know, " I 
don't approve of flirty girls." 

Certainly Joscelyne did not come under this 
category ; girls brought up with girls grow ofttimes 
foolish, but boys soon take all that nonsense out of 
their sisters. 

Any young lady who had tried to indulge in a 
flirtation in Mr. Moucell's house would, indeed, have 
been more courageous than wise. 

Joscelyne was not thinking of such matters when, 
after closing the library door, she crossed the hall 
and walked into one of the smaller rooms, which was 
her boudoir, study, bedchamber, and hermit's cave. 
She and her father slept on the ground floor — he in 
an apartment overlooking The Lawn, she in one that 

Did He Deserve It ? 23 

had a grand view of the water-cistern, with a perspec- 
tive of railway arch. 

That, however, did not matter to the girl ; one may 
have as great thoughts and high aspirations with a 
blackened brick wall bounding the material sight as 
from St. Helena or Mont Blanc ; and doubtless 
Joscelyne had dreamt dreams and seen visions in 
her tiny oratory. 

But at that especial moment her mind was full of 
the book she had read in the solitude of night, at the 
dawn of morning, she was impregnated with it, just 
as many a reader in the former days was carried away 
for the time being, and became part of " The Bride 
of Lammermoor," " The Scottish Chiefs," and " Otter- 

Fashions change, but human hearts remain the 
same ; and though the musician whose hand alone 
is capable of evoking melody from them may not 
twice be the same person, the melody runs on 
through the ages, now sad, now joyful, now plain- 
tively pathetic, and anon wildly jubilant, ofttimes 
sounding a mournful minor chord, and then pealing 
out such a burst of triumphant gladness as might lead 
any superficial listener to imagine life was all success 
and happiness. 

Joscelyne held a volume of Longfellow in her 
hand — Longfellow is par excellence the poet beloved 
by youth — but she was not reading a line it con- 

Everything seemed changing, everything passing 
away, save that book full of lofty thought and high 
endeavour she had not been able "quite to finish." 
It had come as a revelation to her, and she sat 

24 Did He Deserve It? 

wondering whether both could be real, her own life 
and the lives depicted. Or was it — the thought 
entered her heart tremblingly, and the girl almost 
thrust it away with a shudder — that she but stood 
on the threshold of existence, and might as she 
walked forward have to meet the experiences de- 
scribed, or experiences as terrible, in her own proper 
person ? 

This is a sort of dread by no means uncommon 
amongst those who from the haven of a happy home 
for the first time catch a glimpse of what life has been 
for others, and, as if reflected in a mirror, of what 
life may be for them. It is a horrible experience, and 
one concerning which they seldom take their elders 
into confidence. That they who in their bright spring- 
time feel themselves as gods should ever grow old, 
ever be left lonely and desolate, compelled to suffer, 
struggle, get worsted in the fight and thankful to 
crawl out of it away to any solitude where they 
may hide their wounds, comes as a bad nightmare 
to joyous creatures who have never known a real 

Charles Lamb says, " Not childhood alone, but 
the young man till thirty never feels practically that 
he is mortal " — and thus it happens that boys and 
girls walk in a vain shadow till some inexplicable 
presentiment opens their eyes to the plainest truths in 

The girl with whom this story has to do sat for 
some time dreaming, not happy dreams. Had she 
been mending her gloves, or wrestling with a stiff 
seam, as was the commendable practice of heroines 
in those goody books her brothers and, indeed, she 

Did He Deserve It ? 25 

despised, such unrest would probably never have 
arisen. As matters were, she passed through a very- 
bad time till suddenly " Joscelyne, are you there ? " 
cut her reverie in twain. 

" Yes, father,'' she answered, springing to her feet 
like one aroused from sleep. 

But the black cloud Care, which had been brooding 
over her, was gone ; and before she reached the study 
door the girl was her own bright self again. 

" Get me a cup of coffee, dear, and some bis- 

Without a word of remonstrance, though she knew 
his luncheon was in progress, she went down stairs, 
made the coffee, cut a few sandwiches, got some 
biscuits, and carried all on a tray into what one 
servant irreverently styled the " work-room," where 
Mr. Moucell sat with elbows resting on the table and 
his forehead supported on both hands, which formed 
a sort of arch, through which he read a manuscript 
bulky and illegible enough to have daunted one 
less accustomed to fight single-handed with cali- 

''Thank you," he said, without looking up ; " don't 
let me be disturbed." 

" Oh, no ; what time should you like to have 
dinner ? " 

''You forget I am going out to dinner." 

" Then the bird will do cold for supper," thought 
Joscelyne, who had, indeed, forgotten the fact 

" You were right," Mr. Moucell added, as she was 
moving towards to the door. " This is a very strong 

26 Did He Deserve It ? 

"I am so glad you like it. How far have you 
got ? " 

" Not very far ; but I have been dipping. Now run 
away, child.'' 

And the " child " obediently went. 


It was late — or rather early — when Mr. Moucell, after 
his evening out, returned to South Lambeth. He 
had made the tenth at a pleasant little informal 
dinner party, looked in on a genial bachelor friend, 
called at a newspaper office, where he corrected some 
proof, and finally walked from Charing Cross home, 
which he reached in good order and condition, not in 
the least tired. 

The stillness of a great city, which is so much more 
impressive than that of the loneliest country, seemed 
soothing to him. As he crossed Vauxhall Bridge he 
paused and looked at the lights reflected in the water, 
at the river flowing darkly away to the sea, bearing 
strange secrets with it. He had chosen the Middlesex 
side because he thought it would be quieter, but it 
was quiet enough everywhere just then. 

In London there comes a lull between the night 
rush of swift traffic and the slow, heavy roll of the 
market carts at early morn, and Mr. Moucell found 
himself wrapped in it. 

All was silent at Vauxhall Cross, the station closed, 
even the goods trains for a brief space quiet ; scarcely 
a cab could have been found on the rank ; not a 
public-house open ; and when the solitary pedestrian 
passed under the railway arch which obliquely spans 

28 Did He Deserve It? 

South Lambeth Road he was met with the mingled 
perfume of so many fragrant scents that he might 
have been wandering through some fair Eden fifty 
miles in the country, rather than pursuing his way to 
that home which was within fifteen minutes' walk of 
Westminster Clock Tower. 

Each garden gave forth to the crisp night air its 
own special odour — late heliotrope, balm, thyme, 
mignonette, lemon verbena, pungent marigold — 
while from The Lawn came the first faint subtle 
reminder falling leaves were sweet in death, and that 
autumn was nigh at hand. 

Often in the pleasant summer time, Mr. Moucell 
remembered, the whole neighbourhood seemed bathed 
in an atmosphere of newly-made hay, for the river 
winding through far-off green fields where the scythe 
was swinging with a rhythmical swish through the 
long grass, brought with it half-forgotten recollections 
of boyhood's days to many a jaded Londoner. 

Yes, Mr. Moucell remembered how frequently 
Lincolnshire and his early youth came back unbidden, 
and how he had put such wistful thoughts aside by 
quoting, " Distance lends enchantment to the view." 
" I was not so particularly happy there," he was in 
the habit of adding. " After all, London is the best 
place in the world to live in, and South Lambeth the 
most convenient part of London where a struggling 
man can pitch his tent." 

This feeling was strong upon him while he passed 
through the gate and walked towards his house. 
Compared with other residences he had inhabited, 
his present tenement was really one to be desired, and 
an agreeable sense of well-being — a serene con- 

Did He Deserve It? 29 

sciousness of possessing a comfortable home — so long 
as he could pay the rent — came over him. 

He put his key in the door and opened it softly. 

Years during the course of which he feared to 
" wake the baby " had taught him this habit, one he was 
never likely to forget — though, happily, there were 
no babies in his present residence. 

The youngest child, nearly seven years of age, came 
into this world only about three months before his 
mother left it, therefore Mr. Moucell had been long 
a widower, and, that old love dream notwithstanding, 
by no means an unhappy one. It was an open secret 
there were several houses in which he might have 
hung up his hat for life had he chosen to do so ; but 
he did not choose. 

Entering the dining-room, he found a fire burning 
low and supper laid, but it was not till he turned 
up the gas that he saw Joscelyne sitting in an arm- 
chair beside the hearth, fast holden in the land of 
Nod ; she was not in the habit of thus deferring her 
beauty sleep, and Mr. Moucell was so much astonished 
he stood staring at the unwonted spectacle for a few 
seconds in surprise. When his daughter kept vigil, 
as he was aware she sometimes did, it was in the 
solitude of her own chamber, and he could not 
imagine why she had selected on this occasion to do 
him so much honour as to await his return even in 

Then something in her attitude struck him dis- 
agreeably. She lay back in the chair like one worn 
out, and her right hand, which was thrown over the 
arm, hung limp and listless. 

He moved nearer and kissed her ; then gently 

30 Did He Deserve It? 

pushed back what the boys called her "mane : " but 
his caresses failed to awaken the sleeper. 

She only gave a little gasping sigh, and sank into 
a deeper slumber than before. 

Evidently the girl had cried herself into forget- 
fulness. Traces of tears could be seen on her cheeks, 
and her long lashes were still moist with the drops 
which had fallen from her eyes. 

This was indeed something new, and Mr. Moucell 
did not at all like it. What had happened ? What 
could the girl have heard ? All at once an idea struck 
him. " We can soon put that to rights," he thought, 
relieved. " I will just let the poor child sleep on for 
the present ; " and, having so determined, he began 
to carve that bird which had been meant for his 
luncheon. It was a good partridge, and Mr. Moucell, 
spite of having dined, hungry ; therefore some little 
time elapsed before he attacked the second and lighter 
course. He had barely, however, helped himself to a 
tartlet, when he heard a voice exclaiming, " Where am 
I ? Where can I be ? " and turning, he beheld Josce- 
lyne, still half asleep, sitting bolt upright, and looking 
about her like one dazed. 

" Certainly not where you ought to be — in bed," 
answered Mr . Moucell promptly. 

At sound of the familiar tones, slumber dropped off 
the girl like a heavy mantle, and she remembered. 

" O father, I am so sorry ! " and there was a little 
pitiful ring in her words — a sort of echo of past trouble. 
" I meant to have such a bright fire for you and 
everything comfortable, but I must have dropped off, 

" Everything is most comfortable, child — only j-ou 

Did He Deserve It? 31 

should not have sat up. Have you any idea of the 
hour ? " 

" Not the slightest ; and I only waited for you 
because — because — " 

" Well, because — " 

" I felt I must speak to you." 

" It is as I thought," considered Mr. Moucell, 
even while he said aloud, banteringly, *' Matter so 
important couldn't be put off even till after break- 
fast, eh ? " 

" No." 

" You are right, little woman ; time present is the 
best of all times for asking what we desire to ask and 
doing what we want to do, so let me hear all about 
this great trouble." 

" I could not talk it over with anyone but you — " 

" Yes, I understand ; now, what is on your mind ? " 

He had left the table and was standing quite close 
to Joscelyne, his hand laid on her shoulder as he put 
this question. 

Yet the girl still hesitated. 

" Shall I help you ? " he asked. 

" I do not think you can," she replied, though with 
the manner of one who felt there could be little her 
father was unable to do. 

" Let me try. You were vexed because I went out 
to dinner ? " 

" Vexed, father ! no." 

" Not to Mrs. Alston's ? " 

" Indeed — indeed! was not ! I am glad when you 
go to any place where you are certain to spend a 
pleasant evening ; besides Mrs. Alston has always been 
so kind to us — so very kind — " 

32 Did He Deserve It? 

" She is kind ; but that is scarcely the question. 
You must have heard some idle talk relating to her 
and myself — and — " 

" That you were going to be married," interrupted 
Joscelyne with a frank little laugh. " That is quite an 
old story, and it did not trouble me at all, for I knew 
you would never leave us, never — that wherever you 
were we should be. " 

"God bless you, dear," he said, touched to the soul ; 
" but now just listen to me. I have never thought of 
marrying again — never once — " 

" I had enough and too much of it," trembled on 
the tip of his tongue, but a vision of that blue-eyed, 
fond, incompetent, young, foolish little creature he 
wooed and wedded when life was all before him to — 
spoil, rose before his mind's eye, and he remembered in 
time she had been Joscelyne's mother. 

"Wherever there are men free to marry and 
women who can be married, people will couple their 
names together," he went on, " but I have no 
intention of marrying anybody. Remember that ; 
and for the future never attach the smallest importance 
to such idle talk." 

" I never did — really," she said ; " only, if it would 
be happier for you to have a nice lady at the head of 
your household — " 

^'It would not," he interrupted. "Your aunt is 
quite nice enough for me — nice enough for anybody 
I should say ; she is a splendid manager, and no 
woman could have devoted herself more zealously to a 
set of unruly youngsters than she has done ; she has 
been good to you all." 

" Indeed — yes," agreed Joscelyne, with a sigh wrung 

Did He Deserve It? 33 

from her by the consciousness she did not love the 
lady thus eulogized as much as she ought, or rebuke 
the boys for ridiculing Mrs. Rowley's pecuHarities so 
often as she should. 

'' And you will not allow yourself to be vexed again 
when you hear any absurd chatter about my bringing 
home a step-mother to reign over you ? Should I ever 
feel tempted to do such a mad thing, I promise at once 
to ask you to help me to conquer the inclination. Is 
that sufficient ? Are you content now ? " 

"Father dear, I always was content about you," 
stroking his cheek lovingly. 

" Then with what are you not content, child ? " 

" T do not know — everything, I think," and her voice 
broke and she burst into tears. 

Mr. Moucell felt inexpressibly shocked. He drew a 
chair beside hers, and took the slight, lithe figure in 
his arms. 

" My dear daughter ! " he exclaimed, filled with 
apprehensions he dared not put into shape. " How is 
this ? Cry on if it will ease your heart — but remember 
I want to know why you are crying." 

'' Because I feel so miserable," she sobbed. '' Oh, 

"Yes, dear — tell your father." 

" But you will think me dreadfully silly—" 

" I only hope I shall." 

" After you went this evening — " Another pause. 

" Last evening — but that is a detail. Did you com- 
mit some dreadful sin ? " He spoke lightly, but his 
heart was heavy, for he could not imagine whither all 
Joscelyne's talk might be tending. " My darling, 
whatever your trouble is, tell me. Let us get it over." 


34 Did He Deserve It? 

She lifted her face and looked at him pleadingly, 
with eyes that did not, like her mother's, mirror 
heaven's own sky, but were deeply, darkly, divinely 
blue, and under the influence of any strong feeling 
looked almost black. 

Scarcely more than thirteen hours had passed since 
Mr. Gerant praised the roses in her cheeks, which 
were now white as death. Was it any marvel Mr. 
Moucell felt alarm, any wonder a man who under- 
stood the world's wickedness, and knew the many 
pitfalls in a great city, should suffer tortures of 
apprehension while waiting for his daughter's tardy 
speech ? 

"Come, dear, make haste," he urged, finding she 
still kept silence. *' After I went out — that is where 
you left off." 

"After you went out," she repeated slowly, " I read 
to the end of that manuscript, and have been wretched 
ever since." 

" And is that all ? " The words escaped him in- 
voluntarily, as something within his breast seemed to 
give a great bound of relief, like the recoil of a bow 
loosed from its string. " I mean — have you no other 
trouble on your mind ? " 

" None — but that is quite enough." 

" Do you mean to tell me," asked Mr. Moucell, 
greatly aggrieved, " you have been making yourself 
miserable about a lot of men and women who are no 
more than the shadows of a dream ? I thought you 
had more sense, Joscelyne ! " 

" They all seem real to me," urged the girl. 
" That is the author's trick of trade — to represent 
things as true that are false — to make people who 

Did He Deserve It? 35 

never existed speak, move, act, as though living, 
breathing, suffering human beings." 

'^ Ah, and how they suffered ! " 

" Yet I dare say the person who wrote about them 
is as happy as a grig. I have always noticed that 
authors who produce the saddest books are the 
cheeriest fellows going." 

" I never read anything so sad as that story. The 
end is awful. It will haunt me for ever." 

" I hope not ; ' for ever ^ means a long time." 

'^ Father, do not talk in that way. I want you to 
comfort me." 

'* How, my darling ? " 

*'I do not know." 

" I do. If you are going to take all the sorrow in 
fiction home to nurse, you had better try another kind 
of reading. Sherlock's sermons or Smith's 'Wealth 
of Nations ' would prove a beneficial alterative diet. 
Seriously, dear, there must be no more of this. I can't 
have my cheerful, happy girl changed into a sad- 
eyed, hysterical, sentimental miss at the touch of 
any author's wand, were he a thousand times cleverer 
than our Irish friend." 

" No one could be that." 

" H'm — he is clever, certainly ; but he has much 
both to learn and unlearn before he can hope to 
achieve a great success. The book is a strong book, 
but a mistake from the title to the end. As for 
what I suppose he considers his great scene, the 
public simply would not tolerate it. Such a thing 
could not have occurred even in Ireland during this 
century ; besides, it strikes a shockingly discordant 
note. The whole account of the hero's death and 

D 2 

36 Did He Deserve It? 

burial is as untrue to nature as it is false to art. 
But now, child, you ought to be in bed, so we will 
not talk any more at present about Mr. Mallow and 
' The Offences of His Forefathers.' Shall I tell you 
why the book is so depressing ? " he added, as a 
fresh idea struck him. '' Because it is Calvinistic 
from the first page to the last. No wonder it made 
you miserable. A scapegoat bearing others' sins 
across the wilderness of life — predoomed, predestined 
— oh ! he will have to alter all that. Do you feel 
better ? Nothing like threshing out such a foolish 
trouble ; a good wind of common sense carries the 
chaff away — " 

*' And leaves — ? " suggested Joscelyne. 

*' In the case of this book much that is excellent, 
and which, judiciously used, may make its author's 

As a rule Mr. Moucell's words seemed to his daughter 
as those of an oracle ; but when at last she laid her 
tired head on the pillow she did not feel certain 
whether he were right or wrong about that novel. She 
thought, indeed, he was wrong. 


Though Messrs. Gerant, senior and junior, were 
impatiently awaiting Mr. Moucell's report on the 
last parcel of novels consigned to him by that firm, 
their literary adviser did not hurry to send in his 

If ever anyone understood the worst side of editorial, 
publishing and literary human nature, that " one " 
was Mr. Moucell. Consciously and unconsciously, he 
had been studying the subject for over eighteen years, 
and therefore could scarcely avoid knowing more 
about it than was good for him. 

Right, perhaps, so far as he went, his conclusions 
were wrong in several essential respects, simply 
because he did not go further. He gave himself a vast 
amount of trouble in order to arrive at erroneous 
results. He expended, for example, much thought 
in devising how to outwit people who had not the 
faintest intention of trying to cheat him, and an 
unhappy outcome of this mental peculiarity was that 
Messrs. Gerant had to wait often longer than they 
liked, to learn what his opinions were concerning 
authors and the wares they sent to Old Bond Street. 

It was entirely his own fault that matters had not 
from the first been put on a business footing. 

38 Did He Deserve It? 

The Gerants, new to such matters, felt delicate 
about thrusting any proposition upon him, and he, 
hoping to secure something very handsome indeed, 
affected not to understand their hints, and name an 
amount likely to content them who paid and him 
who received ; for which reason a feeling of irritation 
was always rankling in his breast, because the cheques 
sent were irregular in their coming and apt to vary in 
amount. Messrs. Gerant thought their cheques were 
rather liberal ; Mr. Moucell, on the contrary, con- 
sidered the honorarium absurd ; and consequently 
did a little rule of three sum, which proved con- 
clusively to his mind that if in their ignorance the 
publishers displayed so niggardly a spirit, if they only 
knew how short a time he required to skim the 
cream off any book, and how speedily he could, and 
he would, form a decided opinion concerning its 
merits and demerits, particularly the latter, they 
would expect him to work for next to nothing. 

Now, in all this he was quite mistaken. The 
Gerants, father and son, were not merely honest, but 
honourable men, who had no drop of '' sweater's " 
blood in them, and would have been more than 
willing to pay for speed, if combined with reliability, 
and often marvelled at the slowness of their adviser's 
mental movements. 

" I suspect he tries to do too much, poor fellow," said 
Mr. Thomas Gerant apologetically. 

" Then why does he not do less ? In such case 
we could no doubt make matters better for him," 
answered the more practical elder, who knew nothing 
of a pair of eyes, darkly, divinely, beautifully blue. 
" ' If a thing be done well it were well it were 

Did He Deserve It? 39 

done quickly.' Am I right in my quotation, Tom ? 
A tortoise is an express train compared with Moucell. 
He really ought to remember we are living in time, 
and not eternity.'' Which hint the junior partner 
transmitted to South Lambeth, not as originally 
uttered, but — nicely. 

In reply, Mr. Moucell promised to '' hurry up," and 
almost immediately returned several manuscripts 
destitute of promise, together with a few lines of 
sarcastic criticism, adding the pleasant tidings that he 
hoped to report ere long on three still in his hands. 

From his point of view the pear was about ripe, 
and might be soon eaten. For which reason he 
speedily followed up this communication with another, 
stating, — 

" I should like to see you concerning the trio 
forwarded herewith, and shall call for that purpose on 
Tuesday next." 

Now, Mr. Mallow's novel was one of the three 
referred to, only it stood head and shoulders over its 

The latter Mr. Moucell disposed of first. 

" Quite safe. As you are aware, the authors have 
achieved a certain, though very modest, reputation. I 
can unhesitatingly recommend them to your favourable 
consideration. Perfectly harmless ; sure to sell a 
certain number ; sort of books that ' work in ' well, 
and with which no publishing-house can wholly 
dispense, any more than a hostess can banish bread 
from a dinner-party." 

" But there is a difference even in bread," remarked 
Mr. Gerant. " Known authors occasionally turn out 
bad batches." 

40 Did He Deserve It? 

" The interesting works to which I allude," returned 
Mr. Moucell, " are ' good household,' consequently 
you need have no apprehension that they will be 
left on your shelves till stale. The question resolves 
itself into one of price, about which you know more 
than I." 

" Yes ; that is a matter we do understand pretty 
well. I wish you had been able to give a more flatter- 
ing opinion, however. I saw the author of one of the 
books yesterday, and he seemed to think his story 
quite the best thing he had yet written." 

" It may be," in a " Poor devil ! " sort of tone. 

" But you do not know to which author my father 
refers," put in Mr. Thomas Gerant. 

" It does not make the slightest difference, I assure 
you," and there ensued a pause. 

" I confess I feel more than a little disheartened," 
said the elder partner, at last breaking silence. *'We 
hoped to get hold of something new — striking — 
som^ething out of the common, but we seem to have 
no manuscripts aent in save those which are either 
valueless or run on the old lines." 

" Geniuses are not so plentiful as blackberries," 
returned Mr. Moucell, " and the old lines have at least 
the merit of being safe." 

" We have not yet heard what you think of that 
Irish clergyman's book," observed Mr. Gerant, junior. 
" His letter impressed me favourabty, as I mentioned 
at the time ; and this morning I glanced over the 
opening chapters. There seems to be something in 

" There is something new and clever in every 
chapter," was Mr. Moucell's unexpected reply. " I do 

Did He Deserve It? 41 

not know when so able and original a book passed 
through my hands." 

" Come ! this is capital ! " exclaimed Mr. Gerant. 

''I am not so sure of that. I cannot formulate my 
ideas concerning the book. All I am sure of is I 
feel quite unable to advise in the matter. Still, I 

" Where does the difficulty come in ? Is there 
impropriety ? " Those were the days when pub- 
lishers thought it necessary to be on their guard 
lest any poison of asps should lurk within the printed 
leaves they sent forth broadcast. 

Mr. Moucell laughed. " No ; proper to an extent. 
The book is a moral essay, a sermon, a story of 
character, and a well-written tract all in one — any- 
thing, in fact, except a novel." 

" I scarcely understand. Do you mean it is devoid 
of incident, or lacks plot, or that the author has 
overweighted it with reflection, or — " 

*' There is plenty of incident and sufficient plot, and 
the author does not obtrude himself ; the descriptions 
of scenery and sport are 'iabout as good as such things 
can be ; but the whole thing is a mistake, as great a 
mistake as the title." 

"Yes — what does the title mean?" asked Mr. 
Gerant, thankful to have something tangible to grasp 

" Oh, only that the sins of the fathers shall be 
visited upon the children, worded differently. Just 
fancy any collector starting from the Row with such 
a name on his list ! He would ask for ' His Father's 
Fences ' by the time he got here." 

" I really think, even if they had not always a list, 

42 Did He Deserve It? 

collectors have more intelligence/' said the younger 

" Glad to hear it. At all events, it is a bad title, 
and the idea of his forefathers' offences tracking a man, 
and rendering all his good works abortive, dominates 
the book. The man can't get rid of the relentless 
fate which thwarts his best purposes, from the time 
we first see him, sleeping among the little band of 
missionaries away in the Far East — " 

" Yes ; I read that part where he is told in a dream 
to return to Ireland," interposed Mr. Thomas Gerant ; 
" striking scene that." 

" Wonderful ! You can look on the man ; feel 
the hot, moist night air ; hear the wild animals 
crying for their prey ! It is the same all through the 
book, which, spite of some faults, is splendidly written 
and appallingly depressing. The man goes back, and 
Fate goes with him ; and soon Fate, which keeps 
even step along every road he treads, defeats his 
designs, causes him to fail signally in all his efforts to 
repair evil wrought before he was born, and eventually 
compels him to kill himself. The story winds up 
with a sort of infernal midnight carnival, illuminated 
by torchlight, when the man, with a stake through 
his brave heart, is buried where four cross roads meet. 
A gruesome finish — one the public would not stand at 
any price. There is nothing people hate so much 
nowadays as a sad ending." 

" Are you quite sure of that ? " 

" Quite. For the last ten years or more the 
popular taste has been setting steadily in favour of 
the marriage bells and ' happy ever after ' business, 
and now that the century is growing old — got into 

Did He Deserve It? 43 

its last quarter, remember — intolerance of anything 
melancholy will increase day by day." 

" I wonder why ? " 

" For the same reason which makes old people, as 
a rule, dislike a sad face and a house of mourning. 
They prefer naturally not to discount that evil time 
when 'the grasshopper shall be a burden.' Young 
folks, on the contrary, love to be miserable." The 
words were prompted by an irritable recollection of 
Joscelyne, who had, he felt certain, thoroughly 
enjoyed her wretchedness. " And in like manner, 
when eighteen hundred was in its teens and twenties 
and thirties, graves and deaths and partings were all 
the fashion. Only consider Mrs. Hemans' poetry, 
think of Lytton's earlier novels ; remember the songs 
girls warbled. There was not a note of cheerfulness 
then to be heard in all the land. But now that the 
century is getting into years it wants something 
widely different. Before it dies the old creature will 
probably take to buffoonery ! I should not be in the 
least surprised." 

'' Why are you so bitter against this century, Mr. 
Moucell ? " asked Mr. Thomas Gerant. 

" I am not bitter against it, but simply stating 
facts. The century is very likely no better and no 
worse than others that have gone before ; but now 
it is so far on to an end, there is small use in trying 
to make it take again to the doleful stories that 
found favour when the world was all a sheen of 

''Meanwhile," suggested Mr. Gerant, senior, "we 
have wandered far from our original subject." 

" On the contrary, ' The Offences of His Fore- 

44 Did He Deserve It ? 

fathers ' started the whole conversation," said Mr. 
Moucell. " I said, and say still, such an ending as 
that mentioned would swamp any book nowadays." 

" Let us go into the whole matter a little more 
thoroughly, however. You sent a sketch of the 
plot, I believe." 

" Yes, and I read it," interrupted Mr. Thomas 
Gerant. '^ The plot is substantially what Mr. Moucell 
indicates. The man tries to accomplish good, and 
fails ; but, of course, a mere skeleton tells one nothing 
as to how the thing is worked out." 

''It is worked out very powerfully ; from the first 
page to the last the book holds the reader ; the 
writing in the main is extremely good, and there is 
an air of likelihood about the whole narrative which 
prevents one realizing how old-fashioned and melo- 
dramatic all the chief incidents are till the last page 
is reached." 

" But surely that is very high praise ? " 

" It is. I should not like, however, to lead you 
astray, for, as I told you, I am in this difficulty myself, 
that I can't see my way to recommend you to take 
the work or to leave it alone. There are so many 

'' Suppose you tell us what they are ; then perhaps 
we shall find ourselves in a better position to form an 

" Very well. First, the whole story, after that 
dream episode, is laid in Ireland, and people will not 
read Irish novels now — no, not if you stand over them 
with a club ! " 

*' I think we might risk that. I believe a good 
novel, like a handsome woman, is of no country ; 

Did He Deserve It? 45 

I mean, it does not matter of what country the novel 
treats, or where the handsome woman was born." 

'' I do not agree with you ; but we will put 
Ireland on one side for the present, and come to the 

" Which could be altered." 

" Perhaps. The title, however, dominates the 
book. You are never permitted to lose sight of the 
forefathers' misdeeds ; which would not signify so 
much if Mr. Gorman Woyle, of Fincarrow Castle, 
were only permitted to set right, by his own virtuous 
conduct, the offences that had been committed long 
before his birth. The reverse is the case, unfortu- 
nately ; his good intentions seem really to change 
the peasantry into demons. No single one of the 
sinful Woyles was as much hated as he, and the final 
saturnalia, when the men and women he had vainly 
striven to benefit shout and yell and dance over his 
grave, is the very most horrible description of wild 
lawlessness and savage ignorance it was ever my 
misfortune to come across. Nevertheless, it is an 
extraordinary book : full of grit, bright with humour. 
If the author would only alter the title, and rewrite 
the last chapter, and delete a lot about the natives' 
pretty ways, I should feel almost inclined to say — " 

'' Yes ? " 

" Well, I should certainly say ' Risk it.' Do you 
know what the author's age may be ? " And Mr. 
Moucell turned to the managing partner. 

'' Have no idea." 

" I thought he might have made some reference to 
it. If he be young, he has a great future before him, 
but everything in the book points to maturity." 

46 Did He Deserve It? 

" Very likely ; he dates from Kilbrannon Rectory, 
Athlone. But to return to the book. Supposing 
he refuse to alter the title and rewrite that pleasant 
scene, and make the other changes you indicate, 
what then ? " 

" Ah ! that is for you to decide. All I can say 
is, I fear in such case failure is a foregone conclu- 


Mr. Thomas Gerant did not let much grass grow 
ere posting that letter which the wisdom of his firm 
and literary adviser thought might well be despatched 
to Kilbrannon Rectory. 

Almost before he imagined a reply could come 
Mr. Mallow's answer arrived — very grateful, very 
courteous, but very decided. What the reverend 
gentleman said was in substance this : He had written 
his book up to the title, and did not see his way to 
changing the name. He regretted the final scene 
seemed '' improbable, or at all events mediaeval." 
It had, however, actually occurred less than fifty years 
ago, and was still in remote parts of Ireland not 

To write the chapter on different lines would, in 
his opinion, ruin the story. He confessed the book 
was not a cheerful one ; still, he had striven to lighten 
it as far as he could by the introduction of such 
humorous chapters as he found himself able to work 
in naturally. 

He did not attempt to disguise his sorrow that non- 
compliance with the requests contained in Messrs- 
Gerant's communication might mean rejection, but 
'' The Offences of His Forefathers " was a book into 

48 Did He Deserve It? 

which he had put the best work of which he felt at 
present capable. It was his first-born, and very dear 
to him ; and though grieved that he could not meet 
the views of publishers so experienced and of such 
high standing, he failed to see any way in which it 
would be possible for him to follow their advice 
without utterly spoiling a work he believed ought, 
in its present form, to attract some attention. In 
conclusion, he begged for a decision as soon as 
possible, and remained, very faithfully, D. G. Mallow. 

Looking in at the publishers' office on the chance 
of a cheque — indeed, determined to ask for one — 
Mr. Moucell was handed this epistle, which he 
read twice ere returning to Mr. Isaac Gerant, with 
the remark, — 

^* What a pity ! " 

''It is very annoying," said the senior partner. 
Mr. Thomas Gerant, who was sitting with his head 
resting on his left hand, said nothing. He seemed, 
however, to be thinking a great deal. The two older 
men looked at him in silence, and then at each other. 

" Perhaps you are just as well without the book," 
observed Mr. Moucell by way of consolation. 

" That is what I have been telling Thomas, but he 
seems determined to take it." 

" In its present form ? " with a fine incredulity. 

u Yes." 

" He will think better of that." 

" I shall not think better of it— at least, I shall not 
think differently. The book is a good one, and I 
agree with Mr. Mallow a publisher has no right to 
ask an author to chop and change his work to suit 
anybody's particular fancy." 

Did He Deserve It? 49 

" But a publisher has a right to refuse a book 
he does not suppose can pay," remarked the elder 

" Yes, but I believe this book ought to pay." 

" Very well, then, have your own way ; but, as 
I said before, if you like to take the risk of publishing 
it, I think you should do so at your own expense." 

" I do not mind that at all." Mr. Thomas Gerant 
was the happy possessor of a small fortune bequeathed 
to him by his forefathers. " What really does trouble 
me is running contrary to your opinion and setting 
up my own judgment against that of men so much 
more competent to form one than myself as you 
and Mr. Moucell ; that vexes me — it does, indeed, 

^* My dear boy, don't say another word ; I only 
spoke in jest when I said you ought to bear the 

'* I trust there will not be any loss ; but should we 
prove unfortunate, I will not let you suffer for my 
obstinacy. The fact is, I have a strong feeling about 
this book ; the purpose is good, the tone is high ; I 
cannot bear the notion of any other house bringing it 

" If you decide to publish " — it was Mr. Moucell 
who spoke — ''I earnestly hope Mr. Mallow will 
translate his novel into English before it goes to the 
printers ; surely on that point you can induce him to 
listen to reason, for there is no special beauty in 
beginning a sentence at the wrong end." 

'' Yes, I know what you mean ; but there arc not 
so many of those inverted expressions." 

" Perverted, I should call them ! There are quite 


50 Did He Deserve It ? 

enough to arrest a reviewer's attention, and draw- 
down his righteous wrath. Mr. Mallow's style is so 
good as a rule, such errors are the more noticeable. 
If you condone the title, and the pessimism, and the 
fiendish revel, surely you may insist that the Queen's 
English is not outraged ? " 

"I feel inclined to say nothing on the subject." 

" And let the book appear as it is ? " 

"No; if the author spelt incorrectly I should not 
think is necessary to consult him before putting his 
orthography right, and those ridiculous inversions 
come under the same category."" 

'' Then it is quite settled Messrs. Gerant produce 
' The Offences of His Forefathers ' ? " 

" What do you say, father ? " 

*' I leave the whole matter to you." 

" May it have a prosperous voyage," exclaimed Mr. 
Moucell, " and bring a golden freight to the house of 
Gerant ! " 

" Thank you," said Mr. Thomas Gerant gratefully. 

" And talking of money, Mr. Moucell," observed 
the other partner, " reminds me that there is a cheque 
signed, ready to be posted to you. Perhaps you will 
take it ? " 

If there were one thing more certain than another 
it was that Moucell would j^ake a cheque when he 
could get it ; and therefore the letter waiting to be 
posted was speedily transferred to his pocket-book. 

In course of transit, however, he opened it, under 
pretext of asking, " Shall I give you a receipt now ? " 
and managed to ascertain the amount — " which was 
not so bad for the Gerants." 

"Oh, no ; any time," said Mr. Gerant, who in his 

Did He Deserve It? 51 

innocence believed the whole money question was 
absolutely distasteful to a man so well connected — 
nothing grows and spreads like a lie — and with such 
a grasp of mind as Mr. Moucell. 

Mr. Mallow's sentences might occasionally have a 
twist — unmistakably Irish — but they were as nothing 
when compared with the transformation wrought in 
Mr. Moucell by the receipt of money. 

Under that genial sunshine he became for the time 
being a different man : a man who viewed life and the 
people in it hopefully ; a man who sometimes felt that 
in the next world there might be a chance even for 
editors, publishers and proprietors ; a man who, for 
the moment, stood above South Lambeth and its 
pressing necessities — the twelve mouths he had to 
fill, the tradespeople that, ijaturally needing money 
occasionally, he was forced to satisfy. 

His fight bould but be considered fearful ; he did 
not leave his troubles outside his room when he went 
to bed ; they were up earlier than he in the morning. 
The only wonder seemed that he was able to turn 
so calm a face on the foe ; but then, as he himself 
said, " If you lie down, men trample on you." No 
man had trampled upon him yet, simply because he 
had never been forced to lie down. 

There were times though when the dreadful 
question occurred, " Are the evil days coming when 
I shall not be able to stand erect ? " 

Whatever might be in store, they had not come 
when he put up Messrs. Gerant's cheque and said, — 

" I only wish I had sufficient money to start publish- 
ing. I am vain enough to think I could make some 
of your brethren open their eyes ! " 

E 2 

52 Did He Deserve It ? 

" Why, what would you do, Mr. Moucell ? How 
should you proceed ? " 

Mr. Moucell laughed. "As I am never likely to 
be rich enough to carry out my ideas, I may as well 
be generous and tell you. When I had got a good 
author, I should take him to my heart, I should praise 
him, I should pet him ; when he came to me my 
talk should be all of his greatness, not of the great 
doings of Mr. Somebody Else ; I should try to make 
him feel he was the person of most importance in 
creation, instead of a useless devil who might just 
as well, and better, never have been created at 

'' Really, Mr. Moucell ! "■ 

" Wait a while. I have not half finished. Consider 
how authors, as a rule, are treated by publishers ! I 
do not say by you, because I know nothing of your 
mode of doing business. I am talking of the represen- 
tative publisher and the author who has done work 
good enough to last his time. The latter does not 
hear much that is pleasant from the former ; there 
is either a dead silence concerning his books, or he is 
entertained with general statements that there has 
been no demand for another edition ; that the 
publishers trusted his last story would have been in 
more demand ; that if he could but write another 
book like his first (his last being much better) — ' ah, 

then indeed ! ' ; that ' Mr. or Mrs. or Miss 's novel 

had been all the rage ' ; that, in fact, the representative 
publisher can only offer him so much for the work 
he has in hand ; of course, if he thinks he can do 
better elsewhere, the R.P. would be very sorry to 
stand in his way ; and — pardon me for a moment — all 

Did He Deserve It? 53 

the time, remember, that unhappy author hears his 
children crying aloud for bread ! " 

"My dear sir ! I hope you do not think we are 
so unsympathetic ? " 

"As I said, I know nothing about your way of 
doing business. I can only state how it is carried on 
by Tom, Dick and Harry. They get hold of a good 
author, and then they at once begin to depress him. 
They are so much afraid prosperity may make the 
man vainglorious that they think it right to keep him 
low like a weaned child. I was greatly struck a little 
while ago by an anecdote told me by a great lady, 
who no doubt thought it only showed the ' funny 
notions ' entertained by artists and such like. 

" She had asked a pianist and his son to luncheon, 
and the trio made so pleasant a party that the pianist 
felt at last moved to observe : ' I daresay you wonder 
why I do not offer to play something, which I would 
with the greatest pleasure, only / can?iot without the 
gas and the clapping I ' 

" Now, the gas and the clapping are precisely what 
authors want, and just what publishers won't give. 
They are more to the authors than money — a tonic of 
greater efficacy than money." 

" I am listening — I am thinking," said Mr. Isaac 
Gerant. " I am trying to follow you." 

" Has any publisher ever thought, I wonder — I can 
say this dispassionately even to you, Mr. Gerant — 
what writing a book means to an author ? The 
silence and the mystery of at least a year (I am talk- 
ing now of a fairly prosperous man ; of the awful tug 
when a man is not prosperous who could speak ? ). 
From experience my supposititious author has learnt 

54 Did He Deserve It? 

to feel the praise of friends is valueless, so he writes 
on, solitary, though surrounded by his fellows, day 
after day, week after week, hearing no cheering word. 
Such a silence seems to me enough to drive an author 
mad. Authors are but human beings, Mr. Gerant, 
though occasionally some among us have divine 

The pause which ensued was not created for effect. 
Mr. Moucell simply held his peace because he had 
done his talking. Mr. Gerant kept silence because 
he did not well know what to answer. 

It was Mr. Thomas Gerant who broke the spell, 
with this remark, — 

" Granting that all you say is true — which I deny, 
because there is only a certain amount of truth in it 
— at the end of that ' silent and mysterious ' twelve- 
month the author gets in addition to hard cash more 
praise in a day than is meted out to the publisher 
during the course of his whole life. Let us have 
justice, Mr. Moucell. Is it fair that we who find the 
halfpence should get only kicks for thanks ? And as 
for petting and praising an author and taking him to 
our bosom, shall I tell you what would happen, when 
we had made such idiots of ourselves ? " 
"If you please.'' 

"He would go to the first man who bid twenty 
pounds more than we knew him to be worth." 

" I cannot believe it. Do you think there is no 
such thing as gratitude in the world ? " 

" Not in business, where gratitude is as much out 
of place as sentiment." 



Yet there have been some pleasing instances of 
sentiment in the commercial world. I could give you 
a few examples oflf-hand," said Mr. Moucell, who was 
the least sentimental and probably the most ungrate- 
ful man living. 

*' I am sure you could," interposed Mr. Isaac 
Gerant, *' for it seems to me you have every subject 
at 3'our finger-ends; but never mind my son, he is 
a little troubled just now about Mr. Mallow's book, 
which he feels he ought not to take, yet still is 
determined to try. Cheer up, Tom ; should the 
' Offences of His Forefathers ' prove a dead failure, it 
won't break us." 

'' It shan't be a dead failure ! '' said Mr. Moucell. 
'' Only let me know when the whole affair is con- 
cluded, and I will work the puff preliminary to such 
good purpose that you may consider the success of a 
modest first edition secure. Beyond that point I can 
promise nothing." 

"Really you are most kind." Again it was Mr. 
Isaac Gerant who spoke." 

" Not half so kind as you were concerning the poor 
little article that procured me the happiness of your 
acquaintance," answered Mr. Moucell, with his 

$6 Did He Deserve It ? 

pleasant grace of manner which often made matters 
easy for him with tradesfolk and others. " May I 
add to my previous statement, however ? Do you 
suppose," he went on, turning to Mr. Thomas 
Gerant, " that when talking just now about the 
relations of authors and publishers I was speaking 
on a subject of which I knew nothing ? Believe me, 
there is not one of the whole company of authors, 
from the veriest hack like myself to the favourite of 
fortune earning his thousands a year, who would not 
tell you my idea is right. Who has not undergone 
his bad quarter of an hour in the publisher's ' sweat- 
ing room ' ? who has not suffered agonies when 
waiting for the ' deferred payment ' ? whose heart 
has not sunk while hearing the value of his wares 
depreciated, and felt life a very poor thing, and 
himself a still poorer, during the time his work was 
being appraised and his capabilities dissected ? No ; 
believe me, publishers' tactics are wrong. Authors 
are, after all, but children well-grown, and want to 
be praised and patted on the back and told how 
splendidly they are doing by the man who holds the 
purse. The old track has been travelled long enough ; 
I believe any publisher bold enough to try mine 
could make a brilliant success. I am, as I said, only 
a poor hack who sends out his articles anonymously, 
like illegitimate children lacking a father's name, yet 
do you suppose it would be possible for me to write 
on, if editors did not sometimes praise my work and 
tell me in plain words it is very good ? Editors in 
their generation are wiser than the wisest publisher. 
It is not always a foggy day with them. Sometimes, 
even, they have said to me : 'How does it happen, 

Did He Deserve It? 57 

Moucell, you never show the world what you really 
could give it ? Why do you persistently hide your 
light under a bushel ? ' " 

'' The same thought has often occurred to my 
mind," exclaimed Mr. Gerant eagerly. " Why do 
you not write something important — of permanent 
value ? Surely — " 

" I could show you nine excellent reasons, not to 
speak of the less important fact that I must live 
myself,'* interrupted the overweighted author. 
" No ; fate killed my literary ambitions long ago. 
When a man finds he must write for his bread he is 
wise to thank God he can earn it, and keep from 
longing for the luxuries others are able to com- 

'' Still, I wish—" 

" There was a time when I wished too ; that was 
in the days of my folly. Now I am content, which 
is sufficient for me. All the same, however, I do 
wish, in the best interests of literature, I could see the 
system changed of pushing an author down, and then 
keeping him down for ever. And now about ' The 
Offences of His Forefathers ' ? " he added quite briskly. 
" We must make them a success. If there is nothing 
more you want to say to me, I think I will go home, 
and, while my ideas about the book are hot, get them 
on the anvil." 

The Messrs. Gerant had nothing they wished to 
say, so Mr. Moucell, after a cordial handshake, 
departed in very good spirits, and bent his steps 
Lambeth-ward, to take another turn on the tread- 
mill, satisfied to have had his say, which he felt 
assured sooner or later would bear fruit. He had not 

58 Did He Deserve It? 

intended to speak then, but the chance offered, 
and he took advantage of it — as, indeed, he tried 
to do whenever the shadow of a chance came in his 

No man can tell what circumstances may make 
him, but if Mr. Moucell had ever really considered 
the promise of his youth, and the fulfilment of his 
maturity, he might well have wept to think the net 
outcome of all his cleverness had been to leave him 
one of the most calculating of living beings. 

" What a good fellow that is ! " was Mr. Gerant's 
comment. " How anxious to be of use ! " 

*' Yes," answered the son ; " but I think he talked 
a great deal of nonsense. Publishing is a business, 
like everything else." 

" Of course ; still — " which only proved Mr. 
Moucell's words had touched the gentleman's kind 
heart rather than convinced his head. 

A letter such as was to be despatched to Mr. 
Mallow is not an easy one to write, but at last the 
younger Gerant finished an epistle which he decided 
" would do." 

'' And if this literary man is not satisfied with 
the terms, all I can say is he ought to be " — from 
which comment it may be concluded the offer was 

The publisher, therefore, experienced some surprise 
when he only received a card in answer, acknow- 
ledging receipt of his communication, to which Mr. 
Mallow added he would reply fully in the course of a 
few days. As a matter of fact, a whole week elapsed 
before the promised letter made its appearance — 
when the contents amazed Mr. Gerant. 

Did He Deserve It ? 59 

The writer expressed his gratification, but said, 
since there seemed considerable doubt as to whether 
the book would prove commercially successful, he 
should prefer to wait results before taking the cheque 
Messrs. Gerant proposed sending. If the firm for- 
warded an agreement, he would sign and return 
immediately. Owing to the illness of his rector he 
had not been able to take any holiday during the 
summer or autumn, but he now proposed to go for 
a fortnight to London early in November, when 
probably some of the proof would be ready for him 
to correct. 

He ventured to encroach on Messrs. Gerant's good- 
nature by asking if they would have the kindness to 
give him the name of any centrally-situated hotel 
where the charges would be moderate. " I have 
never been to London," he explained, " and do not 
know anyone who could give the information I 
require " — a statement which made father and son 
look at each other. 

The whole letter was so simple, innocent and 
straightforward that both men forthwith conceived 
a liking for its writer, who, while refusing money, 
thought of economy and stood in need of friendly 

" I do not know v/hat hotel to recommend," said 
Mr. Thomas Gerant. " As he is not a rector, 
probably his means are limited, and I should be very 
sorry to let him in for what he might consider undue 
expense. Can you think of any quiet place, father, 
likely to serve his turn ? " 

'' I cannot, indeed. Better refer the matter to 
Moucell ; he is up to everything, and no doubt can 

6o Did He Deserve It ? 

put all right at once. If your mother were only 
stronger, I would ask Mr. Mallow to stay with us. It 
is an attention I should Hke to show him." 

Since it was an attention, however, that the 
speaker could not show, Mr. Moucell had to be con- 
sulted, as it chanced, during Mr. Thomas Gerant's 
temporary absence. 

'' There are plenty of hotels," said the oracle. " I 
will consider which would be the best for a man to 
put up at who, of course, wants to see all there is to 
be seen." 

" I only wish I could have asked him to our house. 
But Mrs. Gerant is so delicate I dare not venture to 
invite even a quiet country clergyman." 

"I will ask him with pleasure," exclaimed Mr. 
Moucell with hearty eagerness. " South Lambeth 
would be just the place for him — close to the Arch- 
bishop's Palace, Westminster, Houses of Parliament 
— convenient for everything. My young folks know 
their London thoroughly, and can pilot him wherever 
he wants to go ; no plan could be better. I am so 
glad I thought of it." 

" But would not it be a terrible inconvenience ? 
You have such a large family, and — " 

*' Inconvenience ? Not a bit of it ! We have 
plenty of room and to spare, and Mrs. Howley 
knows how to make people comfortable. Supposing 
even that it were inconvenient — do you not think I 
should be ontytoo much delighted to serve you and 
your son who have been such kind friends to me ? 
I will write without delay. You may be certain I shall 
word the invitation properly, and make him under- 
stand what your own wishes were on the subject." 

Did He Deserve It? 6i 

" Really, I am at a loss how to thank you 
sufficiently ; of course, any expense which you may 
have to incur — '' 

Mr. Moucell laughed as he answered, " When a 
man has to cater for twelve every day, the cost of a 
thirteenth is not worth mentioning. I am not afraid 
but that we shall manage all right. A person who 
has never been to London and who does not know 
anybody else who has, is not likely to be wildly 
extravagant in his ideas, so we will not order turtle 
soup or ortolans, or champagne either. Very likely 
he is a total abstainer, but I will chance a bottle 
of the best Irish, and so be prepared for any emer- 

All of which, with more to the same effect, Mr. 
Gerant repeated to his son, who did not seem as much 
delighted as might have been expected. 

'' I do not think a man accustomed to a quiet life 
will care for a houseful of boys.'' 

*' We do not know what he has been accustomed to, 
and one thing is certain — if Mr. Mallow wants to get 
through a lot of sight-seeing in a fortnight, Moucell 
can put him in the way of gratifying his desire." 

" How does he intend to explain his appearance on 
the scene ? " 

"I did not ask. He has so much tact, he will 
manage admirably, I feel confident." 

That was just where the shoe pinched, but Mr. 
Thomas Gerant, for reasons of his own, refrained from 
saying it pinched at all ; instead he remarked, — 

" I wonder whether Mr. Mallow is young or old ? " 

" Moucell thinks middle-aged at the least ; believes 
he has been gathering experience for years, and that 

62 Did He Deserve It? 

his book is the outcome. Says he will probably never 
write another worth a rush." 

" Put all his plums into one pudding, eh ? It is not 
improbable. Well, we shall be better able to judge 
after we have seen him." 



Mr. Moucell did not, as a rule, affect early rising ; 
but on the morning when Mr. Mallow expected to 
arrive in London he stood at Euston Station waiting 
for the Irish Mail. 

His invitation had been frankly accepted by the man 
who would have sent just such an invitation himself. 
The idea that it was unusual never crossed his mind. 
All his life he had mixed among people who regarded 
hospitality as the commonest of common virtues, and 
rejoiced to receive guests as much, as in a more artificial 
state of society hosts and hostesses rejoice to get rid of 

Kilbrannon Rectory had ever been a house of call 
for pilgrims through the moist valleys of Central 
Ireland, and Disestablishment made no difference in •, 
the warmth of its welcome. At sight of a stranger 
the doors flew wide almost of their own accord. A 
hen strolling leisurely about unconscious of impending 
evil, could always be caught and killed to grace the 
clerical board. No great changes can be wrought 
instantly, and though doubtless a change has since 
come, in the days when Mr. Mallow was curate of 
Kilbrannon, Erin's wild harp was still giving forth that 
gay, careless music which Erin's children will probably 
never, save in imagination, hear more. 

64 Did He Deserve It ? 

Mr. Mallow had been asked to make his home at 
the Rectory till he could find lodgings, and as there 
were no lodgings to find, he remained there, sometimes 
in company with the Rector and his wife, more 
frequently alone. It was as desolate and dreary a 
parish as the heart of man could conceive ; but he 
had been happy in it, and he felt happy as the train, 
with much grinding of brakes, and, judging from 
the amount of noise, an apparently tremendous 
sense of its own importance, rushed into the London 

Mr. Moucell was looking out for a man of middle 
age, his frame bowed under its weight of knowledge, 
his hair sprinkled with grey, preoccupied, grave, 
probably shy ; but no one answering this ideal, 
whether clerical or lay, descended from the train, and 
he was thinking he might as well have had his sleep 
out, when he heard a cheery-faced young fellow, clad 
in a heavy overcoat, who was carrying a hat-box and 
rug, say to a porter, " Only one portmanteau in van, 
thank you — ' Mallow.' " 

"Are you Mr. Mallow, then ? " asked Mr. Moucell, 
walking up to the speaker with extended hand. 

" I am," answered the young man with a smile. 
*' And you ? " 

'' My name is Moucell." 

" Ah, I thought so. Well, this is good of you. 
What a morning for anyone to turn out ! " 

The accent, though unmistakably Irish, was refined 
and cultivated, the manner easy and unembarrassed. 
All Mr. Moucell's preconceived notions of a depressed 
and down-trodden curate vanished into thin air. He 
was simply astounded. Could this boy — he really 

Did He Deserve It? 65 

seemed nothing more — be the author of a book which 
sounded the very depths of sorrow and took firm grip 
of the heart as if with hooks of iron ? It seemed in- 
credible ! All very well to talk as he had to Joscelyne 
of authors being the antitheses of their books, but 
there was something almost uncanny about such an 
antithesis as he saw in the flesh before him. 

When had the man begun to write ? Where had he 
got his experience ? Where the original thoughts 
that leaped out of the darkness of his book as lightning 
from the midst of gloomy clouds ? 

What would Messrs. Gerant say ? They could not 
believe him to be the real Simon Pure. They would 
think, as Mr. Moucell almost thought, that there was 
some deception — someone masquerading for a frolic, 
only intent on playing off a very bad joke. 

" Is this a London fog ? " asked Mr. Mallow, as they 
drove through streets still dark, where gaslights made 
a bad fight against wet and damp. 

" No. A genuine London fog rises before a man 
like a wall ; he cannot see the lamp-post he is clutch- 
ing, or the house he leans against." 

" How I hope there will be one while I am here ! " 
It was amazing. This man had produced a story 
which might have been written about the lost in their 
place of punishment, and yet he appeared as eager to 
be in the thick of a yellow fog as a schoolboy. 

Mr. Moucell, spite of his cleverness, knew little con- 
cerning the full compass of the human heart, and 
marvelled that an instrument that could peal out notes 
of mortal agony should be capable also of echoing the 
light impressions of a mind at peace. 

Mr. Mallow had by this time unfastened his muffler, 


66 Did He Deserve It? 

and the orthodox white tie consequently appeared in 
evidence, to Mr. Moucell's relief, for he felt glad to 
perceive even so slight a sign that his new friend was 
bona fide. 

As they talked, however, the first impression made 
by the young man's appearance began to wear off, and 
Mr. Moucell became gradually conscious it was chiefly 
his companion's contented manner and general look 
of well-being that had led him astray. One who had 
lived for the best part of his existence amid country 
scenes, in country air, keeping regular hours, and 
leading an existence free from all harassing and un- 
healthy excitement, naturally failed to exhibit the traces 
of age that as a rule mark the town-bred countenance. 

When at rest, also, Mr. Mallow's mouth wore an 
expression almost of sternness, while into the eyes 
there came at times a look of deep thought strangely 
at variance with the laughing light which had danced 
across them at Euston Station. 

Yes ; it was conceivable that this other man — the 
man within the man, so to speak — had written even 
" The Offences of His Forefathers." The experience 
he might have got from anyone. The genius most 
probably was his own ; and, better satisfied, Mr. 
Moucell devoted himself to amusing his companion. 

He was not diflScult to amuse. Everything inter- 
ested him ; everything seemed strange. 

'* I always wished to see London," he observed, 
" but I never thought I should see it under such 
pleasant circumstances. You were indeed kind to 
ask me to your house," whereupon Mr. Moucell, of 
course, said what was proper in the most genial 
manner possible, and chat ran on very easily and com- 

Did He Deserve It? 6^ 

fortably till they reached South Lambeth, where Mr. 
Moucell bade the traveller heartily welcome to his 

*' What a pretty neighbourhood ! " remarked Mr. 
Mallow ; though, indeed, the neighbourhood was 
looking its very worst, which can be very bad. 

^' Yes, I think so too," was the answer — '' and most 
convenient. Good people lived about here at one 
time, but it is unfashionable now." 

The pair had breakfast tete-a-tite. The society of 
his children at meals was never a blessing Mr. Moucell 
appreciated, so by some unwritten law it had come to 
pass that save on Sundays, when he was seldom at 
home, he generally ate in solitary state. 

" It is a most convenient arrangement," Mrs. How- 
ley often remarked ; and it was. There were two 
spare rooms in the basement where the young 
Moucells fed, and played, and argued, and quarrelled, 
while Mrs. Howley serenely darned socks and per- 
formed other good works in the midst of a din which 
might have driven another woman mad ; consequently 
the head of the house did not see much of his family, 
and on the morning when Mr. Mallow arrived he was 
able to skilfully interview him without interruption. 

It was not long before the host knew almost 
all there was to know about his guest's antecedents. 

He had been curate at Kilbrannon for nearly 
five years ; before that in Dublin for two. He was 
just nine and twenty. Every acre belonging to 
his people had been sold in the " Encumbered 
Estates Court." Fortunately his father held a post 
under Government, "which makes matters pretty 
comfortable," explained Mr. Mallow, who evidently 

F 2 

68 Did He Deserve It? 

had nothing to conceal. " My two sisters are 
married ; one brother is in Canada, another in 
Brazil, and a third in China ; I am the only stay-at- 

"And your hat covers your family, I presume?" 
hazarded Mr. Moucell, with a smile. 

For a moment Mr. Mallow looked puzzled. 
Evidently he had never met that phrase running 
loose about Kilbrannon parish ; then he understood, 
and answered : 

'^ You mean that I am unmarried : yes, of course." 

" Happy man ! " Mr. Moucell would have ex- 
claimed, had not his thoughts taken quite an opposite 
direction. From the time when he offered the 
hospitality of South Lambeth to a total stranger till 
he was driving home with him through those 
narrow and devious streets cabmen, for some occult 
reason, love, he had thought of no one in the matter 
save Messrs. Gerant and such pecuniary small 
advantages as might arise to himself. 

As the cabman crossed Waterloo Bridge, however, 
the busy brain, which never knew any rest, began to 
consider that beside him sat a young man with his 
future to make, while at home there was his 
daughter, who might help to render that future a 
great success. There were fat livings in the Fenland 
gift ; there was patronage the Fenlands could 
influence. The Marquis, now growing old, was well 
disposed towards a person who had written many 
things pleasing to the right party — his lordship 
could not be supposed to know the same person had 
written almost as many on the other side of the 
question, which, though an expedient proceeding 

Did He Deserve It? 6g 

from Mr. Moucell's point of view, was perhaps a 

Of the latter circumstances, however, as has been 
said, Lord Fenland was not aware, and his old liking 
had quite returned for a man whose presence re- 
minded him of the pleasant days when elections were 
differently managed, and peers could almost ensure 
the return of their own nominees. Viscount Reed- 
pont also, and Lady Patricia, not to speak of Lady 
Patricia's husband, Mr. Clifton Jones, thought well of 
one who had shown — the noble marquis considered 
conclusively — what he might have achieved under 
happier circumstances. 

The}' were a family, as Mr. Moucell quite under- 
stood, who, though they hated to be asked, were 
willing enough to give anything except money, or 
what meant money's worth to their august selves ; 
and — who could tell ? — it might be on the cards that 
Joscelyne would yet be wife to a Bishop ! 

Mr. Mallow's book was written on lines sure to find 
favour in Lord Fenland's eyes. He had evidently 
mixed with good people — as the word is generally 
understood among worldly people — and, in brief, the 
thing seemed quite possible, and was well worth 

True, the young man was nearly twelve years 
Joscelyne's senior, but what of that. Nothing at 
all ; the disparit}' was on the right side — the match 
suitable in every respect. 

For this reason Mr. Moucell asked that question 
which puzzled his visitor, and also was the cause why 
he did not make the cynical comment, " Happy man," 
but rather held his peace. 


'' Now, what is the first thing you would like to 
do ? " asked Mr. Moucell, after he had run through a 
list of sights worth seeing and places worth going to, 
long enough to daunt the most courageous. 

But Mr. Mallow was not daunted ; rather, with all 
his wits about him, he answered, promptly : 

'' Call on the Messrs. Gerant," greatly to the amuse- 
ment of his host, who exclaimed : 

^' There is nothing in this world so sweet as love's 
young dream — except an author's first book." 

The fresh aspirant for literary honours did not 
reply, only coloured and laughed, while Mr. Moucell 
went on : 

''Yes; the first book contains, in imagination, 
everything a man can wish for — love, greatness, 
happiness. At the beginning all authors see the great 
possibilities lying within a manuscript as certainties, 
and even at the end — " 

" Even at the end," repeated Mr. Mallow, sugges- 

If Mr. Moucell had spoken his mind he would have 
said : *' Even at the end they still hope, poor fools, 
though they know they are worse paid and get less 
thanks than any other class in the community," but 
his r6le just then was not to depress, but encourage, 

Did He Deserve It? 71 

the rising light, therefore with that fatal readiness 
habit had taught him, he shifted the gloomy slide and 
substituted : 

" When the play is over I think most writers would 
say they have had their pennyworth. Few amass 
fortunes, but all things are comparative ; and the 
amount of capital a man requires to start what may 
grow into a big affair is really infinitesimal. A quart 
of ink, a ream of foolscap, and a box of pens suffice 
to write a long novel." 

" Well, hardly ; the author contributes time, 
brains, labour." 

" So, after a fashion, does the earth into which 
some grudging farmer casts, for the most part un- 
gratefully, God's good seed, and afterwards never 
even thanks Mother Earth for all the trouble she has 
given her useful old self, only takes the crop under 
some agricultural law of Divine right. It is a nice 
question, and one you had better thresh out on some 
future day with your then publisher." 

Mr. Mallow did not understand what the speaker 
meant, and Mr. Moucell did not exactly know him- 
self ; but the talk served. 

" If you wish to go to Old Bond Street to-day, I 
think we might as well start soon," said Mr. Moucell, 
after a brief pause. 

" I am ready, but pray do not let my small 
business interfere with your more important engage- 

" As it happens, your business fits in exactly with 
mine. I want to call at a place in Piccadilly close to 
Messrs. Gerants' office." 

They took boat at Nine Elms Pier, and proceeded 

72 Did He Deserve It ? 

no further than Westminster Bridge, having passed in 
that short run, however, St. Mary's Church, Lambeth 
Palace, St. Thomas's Hospital, and the Houses ot 
Parliament. Far as the eye could see down river 
there were buildings piled on buildings, spire rising 
above spire. Mr. Mallow stood on the noble Em- 
bankment, looking about him with an expression of 
puzzled enchantment delightful to behold, and Mr. 
Moucell read the thoughts that chased each other 
through his mind, like print. 

This was London — modern London, historical 
London — the London of romance, the London he had 
heard of, read of, thought of, wished to see — which 
was far mightier and more imposing than the London 
of his dreams. Vanished were the narrow thorough- 
fares of Bloomsbury, forgotten the mean streets their 
cabman had threaded on his way to Waterloo Bridge, 
obliterated the first disappointing impression of 
London the Great. 

This, this was London, seated proudly on the 
banks of its world-famed river — not the most 
beautiful capital of present times, but the most 
interesting and wonderful. 

There are points from which one could wish 
strangers might obtain their earliest impression of 
London — the top of Highgate Archway, for instance ; 
or Charing Cross Railway Bridge, just where the 
pedestrian seems to be standing above the gardens 
that stretch under Adelphi Terrace ; or the orna- 
mental water in St. James's Park ; or from the Albert 
Embankment on a night when the moon is pla3dng at 
hide-and-seek with brooding shadows over the 
Houses of Parliament, casting strange streaks of light 

Did He Deserve It? 73 

across the water, and touching with tender silvery 
gleams blackened stone and terrace walk, blankly 
staring windows, Clock Tower and darkly flowing river. 

" I am sorry you have not a better morning on 
which to make the acquaintance of our little village," 
said Mr. Moucell, with a throb of gratified pride, — he 
had adopted the great metropolis, " though for 
London in November it is not so bad a day now the 
mist has cleared off somewhat." 

" In my opinion this slight haze adds to the effect," 
answered Mr. Mallow. 

" Gives to the whole scene an air of mystery ? " 

" Exactly. Now, where is the Abbey ? " 

'^ We shall see it presently ; but we will not go 
inside to-day, because my young people are promising 
themselves the pleasure of shovv^ing you the finest 
building London contains." 

" Finer than St. Paul's — or the Tower ? " 

" Yes, I fancy you will say so." 

They walked up the incHne to Bridge Street, and 
in another moment Mr. Moucell said : " That 
building across the way is Westminster Hall." 

" Westminster Hall," repeated the man, new to ail 
these sights, with such eagerness that some who were 
passing first looked at him with surprise, and then 
turned to glance at the ancient pile they had seen 
so often, it seemed to them quite a common thing. 
But before Mr. Mallow's eyes a whole series of pictures 
swept with the speed of a hurrying procession. 
Without order or sequence he saw Charles the First, 
Warren Hastings, Lambert, More, Balmerino, 
Norfolk, Strafford, Russell stand upon their trial. He 
beheld the awful scene when prelates and abbots 

74 Did He Deserve It? 

threw their tapers on the ground and, as with one 
voice, pronounced that fearful curse — which need not 
be repeated here. He heard Henry HI. swearing to 
keep the charters inviolate — " as I am a man, as I am 
a Christian, as I am a Knight, as I am a King, crowned 
and anointed " — ere returning to his former evil ways, 
and, as usual, breaking every promise he had made. 
And then there recurred the episode of that French 
king who in captivity, being entreated to cast aside 
his melancholy, made answer in those words which 
have floated down to us through the ages and were 
over two thousand years old when quoted by the 
unhappy prisoner more than six centuries agone : 
" How shall we sing in a strange land ? " 

It is the plaintive notes of life that continue to 
sound soft and clear when the trumpet tones of war 
and triumph are forgotten, and as at Mr. Moucell's 
bidding he tore his gaze from the largest hall in 
Europe, unsupported by pillars, the young clergyman 
came back at the same time — not from London or 
Ireland, but from the slopes of Palestine, where he 
had for a moment seemed to be listening to the 
pathetic question of that sweet singer who knew how 
to awaken every chord in the human heart. 

What a corner that was to which Mr. Moucell 
directed the stranger's attention ! St. Margaret's, the 
Abbey, the grand entrance to St. Stephen's — all 
clustered together close beside Westminster Hall 
Palace Yard, and the Clock Tower. Mr. Mallow drew 
a long breath. He felt he would need leisure to 
think over all these things. What a stately place 
London was ! No description he had read did the 
slightest justice to it. 

Did He Deserve It? 75 

They went along Parliament Street towards 
Trafalgar Square, Mr. Moucell indicating in the 
distance the Nelson monument, the Admiralty, Horse 
Guards, Whitehall, ere, turning suddenly to the left, 
he said with a smile : " This is Downing Street, which 
doubtless you have heard of. We are going across St. 
James's Park." As he spoke they were in it, while a 
few minutes' walk brought them close to the Duke of 
York's column. 

" How lofty ! " said Mr. Mallow, looking up at the 
figure on the top, while they ascended those broad 
steps which lead out of the Mall into Waterloo 

" Yes," agreed Mr. Moucell. " It was said by the 
wits of that day the gentleman was put there to be out 
of reach of his creditors." 

" Did he owe so much ? " 

"I believe he did. It was a way great people 
had then — and which many have now, for that 

It was not long ere they reached Old Bond Street, 
where Mr. Moucell went in just for a moment in order 
to introduce his captive. 

The Gerants, father and son, were very pleasant ; 
yet anyone who understood the junior partner might 
have guessed he was not quite content. 

If the idea of a middle-aged, depressed, down- 
trodden curate had failed to find favour in his eyes, 
how should the reality of this cheerful, pleasant-look- 
ing, easy-spoken, clever young fellow recommend 
its undesirable personality to his jealous suspicion ? 

Here was precisely the individual to take a girl's 
fancy : that frank laugh, that melodious voice, that 

76 Did He Deserve It ? 

winning manner, to the charm of which Mr. Isaac 
Gerant yielded himself a thrall forthwith. 

Nothing could have been more unfortunate, and in 
his heart the junior partner wished Mr. Moucell forty 
fathoms deep for so officiously offering his hospitality 
to such an undesirable inmate. 

" I hope you will not be put to any inconvenience 
at South Lambeth," he said, when the literary adviser 
had taken his departure — though, indeed, he could 
have wished the young clergyman put to such 
inconvenience as to desire to remove forthwith — 
" but in a house with so many children it must be 
difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to have much 
quiet. I often wonder how Moucell manages to get 
through his work." 

^* The place seems wonderfully still to me," was 
the answer. " No one would imagine there were 
children on the premises. I never heard a sound, 
and have not seen any person except Mr. Moucell 
and a servant." 

Mr. Thomas Gerant brightened up a little after 
that. "Really," he thought, " Moucell has a great 
deal of good sense. Evidently he is keeping his 
daughter in the background ; and she — well, she is 
not at all a pushing girl ; just a nice, natural, un- 

'' We shall be able to send you a good supply of 
proof this afternoon," Mr. Gerant, senior, was sajang. 
" Perhaps you will kindly let us have it back as soon 
as you can. We are hurrying the printers, so as to 
get the book out before the end of this month." 

Mr. Mallow was delighted, and promised to lose no 
time in returning such sheets as he might receive. 

Did He Deserve It ? ^j 

Then they drifted into purely business talk, and Mr. 
Thomas Gerant, by way of raising the author's 
spirits, observed, — 

'' Of course, it is impossible to tell how any book 
by an absolutely unknown writer will ^ go.' It may 
take, it may fail ; but whether it fail or take, one 
thing is certain — it will require a lot of advertising. 
We mean to advertise it -well ; not to let your work 
sink for want of money to float it." 


Mr. Moucell returned while the point Mr. Thomas 
Gerant's remark was meant to raise chanced to be 
the subject of conversation. 

Understanding exactly what it might mean here- 
after, he took part in the discussion — if the word can 
be applied to a statement made by one side, and 
accepted without question by the other. 

Mr. Mallow expressed his willingness to meet the 
publishers in every possible way. 

He had already written he was not in a position 
to take the expenses on himself, though more than 
ready, as also previously stated, to let the question of 
payment remain in abeyance till after " The Offences 
of His Forefathers" had stood at the bar of public 

" No, no, no ! " exclaimed Mr. Thomas Gerant ; 
" our offer was made after due consideration, and 
whether the book prove a financial success or not 
can make ho difference as regards that matter. What 
we should like you to give us, however, is the refusal 
of your next novel." 

" Why, of course ! " agreed Mr. Mallow, astonished 
the firm should be thinking of another work before 
the first had escaped from the printers. 

" Messrs. Gerants' request is perfectly natural, as 

Did He Deserve It ? 79 

well as absolutely fair," put in Mr. Moucell. *' If the 
great work fall dead— why, they lose their money, 
and bear the loss with equanimity. If, on the other 
hand, it should make a coup^ they only ask you to 
give them the chance of reaping another harvest. 
They are not so unreasonable as to wish you to say 
you will sell them your next book, but simply to be 
allowed to try whether they cannot do as well 
for you as Brown, Jones, Robinson, and others 
of that ilk who are always lurking round corners in 
the hope of securing some honest publisher's pet 

Hearing which, Mr. Mallow uprose in wrath. 
"' They would find it a difficult matter to steal this 
lamb ! " he declared. '^Please at once give me pen, 
ink and paper, that I may write a letter or sign an 
agreement, or do something to make you absolutely 
safe, though I hope— I do hope— you know I could 
never be so mean as to close with any other offer, 
after the kindness you have shown throughout the 
whole of this affair," and he turned with a sort of 
passionate appeal to Mr. Isaac Gerant, whom he 
evidently regarded as a present help in time of 

*' Gently, gently ! " suggested Mr. Moucell. '' No 
one, I am sure, thought you would act otherwise than 

''No need for any writing," added Mr. Thomas 
Gerant; "your word is more than sufficient. Is it 
not, father ? " 

" Far more," declared Mr. Gerant, senior. 

"I would rather put the matter in black and 
white," persisted Mr. Mallow. "The very idea of 

8o Did He Deserve It? 

throwing over a house which has acted fairly by me 
seems so monstrous that I should like to do any and 
every thing in my power to make you safe." 

" Very well : then we will send a little memo, with 
our cheque, to the effect that we may count on being 
offered the refusal of your next work of fiction. 
Probably you have one on the stocks ? " 

" I have one partly built," confessed the young 

" That is capital ! I hope we shall be able to 
publish it also." 

*'And I hope," said Mr. Mallow gracefully, "you 
may think it worth publishing." 

" Now that business is satisfactorily settled," edged 
in Mr. Moucell, who could always be depended on to 
come forward when a fresh appearance was desirable 
on any stage he adorned, '' I wish to remark that as I 
am devoting this day to personally conducting Mr. 
Mallow ^ around the surroundings ' — the phrase is 
not mine or copyright — I think we must say farewell 
for the present." 

" Where are you going to take Mr. Mallow ? " 
asked the elder partner. 

" Oh, just ' around ' a little first ; later on to Mrs. 
Eldon-Gannox's ' at home ' ; then — " 

" Indeed ! " interrupted Mr. Thomas Gerant, sur- 
prised. " That will be a gathering worth seeing." 

" Are you going ? " asked Mr. Moucell innocently. 

" No ; only wish I were. Hadn't the chance — " 

" What a pity I did not know ! I could have got 
you a card quite easily. I wish, when there is any- 
thing in progress at which you would care to be 
present, you would just drop me a line ; I can 

Did He Deserve It? 8i 

generally manage an invitation. Trouble ! Not a 
bit of it; only too happy." 

'' Thank you ; I may ask you at some future 
time. Are you acquainted with Mrs. Gannox, Mr. 
Mallow ? " 

"No; but my i^other saw her act in Dublin, I 
won't say how rnany years ago." 

" Best keep on the safe side. Remember, women 
and music should never be dated." 

" I thought she was dead." 

" Oh, dear no ! very much alive ; married her 
third husband about a couple of months since. 
Charming woman, I believe — but I cut across your 
sentence just now, Mr. Moucell ; you were going to 

" That I proposed to wind up a quiet day by 
dining in Portman Square with the Clifton Jones. 
Mr. Jones married one of the Fenland famxily, as no 
doubt you are aware. The Fenlands are old friends 
of mine. If you remember, I went abroad with the 
son, to whom I dedicated that little account of travel 
you were good enough to like, Mr. Gerant." 

" Why do you not go abroad again, and give us 
another book as full of charm ? " 

" Ah ! I was young then, and free, as this fortu- 
nate gentleman," repHed Mr. Moucell, indicating his 
protege / " a father of a family has something else to 
do than travel for pleasure. I have often wished, 
however, some enterprising editor would make it 
worth my while to go to a Httle known country. I 
should greatly enjoy packing up." 

" Who can tell what may be in store ? " which was 
one of those maddening questions people are so fond 


82 Did He Deserve It ? 

- t ust 

of putting by way of consolation to ^poor wretches 
who beUeve they know only too well what is likely 
to be in store. 

" Ay, who can tell — either of good or evil ? " 
returned Mr. Moucell, with an involuntary sigh. 
" But we really must be off! " and the man who had 
marred his future went away with the man who had 
his future still to make. 

They went here and there, constantly coming 
across something which seemed very wonderful and 
interesting to the stranger from a strange land. 

No one need have desired a better companion in 
such a ramble than Mr. Moucell. His stock of 
information seemed inexhaustible, while his memory 
was marvellous. Anyone might have imagined he 
was out for a happy holiday, and yet he carried 
within his breast a sadly anxious heart. Things 
were not going well. They had not been going well 
for some time ; and as he walked and talked he felt 
like one doing his turn on a treadmill, to which he is 
doomed for life. 

There is no greater mistake than that of imagining 
trouble can be exorcised by change of scene, or left 
at home when a man goes out among his fellows. 
People who are quite easy in their worldly and domestic 
affairs particularly affect this theory', not comprehend- 
ing movement is as likely to knit a broken bone as 
mixing in society to pay pressing debts, or lessen the 
weight and fret of a heavy burden. 

But they are wrong. Care has a free pass on every 
railway in the kingdom. It jumps into omnibuses 
and tramcars, and no inspector demands a ticket. It 
enters the finest houses with a companion who would 

Did He Deserve It ? 83 

fain be rid of the haunting presence, and yet has 
received no card of invitation. It is tireless, and to 
all save the man afflicted by its company, bodiless ; 
the footmen who stood in Mrs. Eldon-Gannox's hall 
did not perceive even the shadow of a shade as 
his trouble stalked into the house with Mr. John 

Who was there not at that gathering? Actors, 
artists, musicians, editors, authors, filled the rooms, in 
order to welcome back to London a bride of nearly 
seventy, whose voice was still sweet, whose manner 
had not lost its fascination, who could remember the 
rejoicings when Waterloo was won, and yet was as 
much occupied with the doings and sayings of to-day 
as Mr. Moucell himself. 

A wonderful woman — a beautiful old woman with 
a soft, gracious expression, delicate hands, and the 
indefinable charm which had half a century previously 
won for her wealth, friends, fame, love. 

She accorded a specially warm greeting to Mr. 
Moucell, who had since they first met been her most 
loyal and respectful admirer, and took Mr. Mallow, as 
his friend, into favour at once. 

" Ah ! " she said, " tell me about Dublin. ^ Dear—' 
How does the phrase run ? " 

'' ' Dear dirty DubUn,' I believe." 

" Yes, of course ; though it is difficult to say why, 
except because people like alliteration. Whether 
dirty or not, however, Dublin will always be dear to 
me. I never had such encores in any other town, nor 
such audiences." 

" How I wish I had been among them ! " 

*' Why, you were not born when I was last on Irish 

G 2 

84 Did He Deserve It? 

soil ; and yet how short a while it seems since I saw 
Sackville Street ! * Time gathered looks so small.' 
Horace, will you look after Mr. Mallow ? " she went on, 
speaking to a gentleman standing near. " Probably 
he would like to be introduced to some of our guests," 
and smiling she thus dismissed one who felt her to 
be the individual best worth knowing among all 

There were lots of celebrities, however — men 
whose names were familiar as household words — who, 
though lions, looked very tame, who talked in the 
most natural way possible, and did not seem in the 
least spoilt by their greatness, or uplifted because of 
it. Mr. Mallow thought he had never met a simpler, 
more friendly set of people, and made some remark to 
this effect when he and Mr. Moucell left the house. 

" It is the tenth-rate author," answered his com- 
panion, '' the artist who can only daub, the comedian 
who is not funny, the musician who has missed the 
mark, that gives himself airs — the imitators, the shams, 
the pretenders are the affected folk. Clever men and 
women do not, as a rule, trouble themselves to paint 
the lily." 

*' One lady present certainly painted, though I 
should scarcely say the lily." 

''Mrs. Wilbraim — yes. I saw how she fastened on 
to you. Isn't she dreadful ? " 

'* I thought so. What is her particular line ? " 

" Lying and lion-hunting. No one likes her, yet 
everyone goes to her parties ; not for the sake of the 
hostess, but that of the company to be met there. I 
used to go to her ' at homes ' once upon a time, but 
1 got tired of the business." 

Did He Deserve It? 85 

Mr. Mallow laughed. He was thinking of how the 
lady had told Mr. Moucell to go away — go away far — 
a bad deceitful man, who flattered shamefully ; she 
only hoped he would not spoil Mr. Mallow. "Pray 
do not let yourself be led by him," she said to her 
new captive, as she waved Mr. Moucell from her side. 
**I assure you he cannot speak without paying me a 
compliment. Dreadful, is it not ? Shows such shock- 
ing taste — not gentlemanly ! " 

" You can scarcely expect me to agree with you 
there ! " answered Mr. Mallow, feeling he ought not 
to let the latter part of the remark, at all events, pass 
without protest. 

" Dear me ! I did expect better things from you ; 
but men are all alike," with a little giggle and tap of 
her fan ; " they were deceivers ever." 

" Does she imagine I meant to flatter her ? " was the 
thought which passed through the young clergyman's 
mind. " I would as soon try to get up a flirtation 
with the witch of Endor ! " And he looked at the 
old raddled face where powder lay thick in the 
wrinkles, where there was a smear of colour on each 
sunken cheek, and little patches of real white obtruded 
from under the dark hair, which looked so ghastly 
when contrasted with her yellow furrowed skin. 

" And how did you leave dear Ireland ? " she asked 
in her tenderest tones — somewhat to Mr. Mallow's 
discomfiture, for he had not told her he hailed from 
the Isle of Saints, and fondly imagined his accent was 

" Much as usual," he answered. " She was weeping 
bitterly when I left DubHn last night." 

^' Did you really cross last night ? " 

86 Did He Deserve It ? 

"Yes, really." 

'' Dear me, how strange ! That accounts for it." 
He had not courage to ask what " it " required to 
be accounted for. The process of reasoning which 
might be going on in her mind seemed as mysterious 
and erratic to him as the course of a comet. 


'' Mrs. Wilbraim asked you, of course, to call and 
see her ? " said Mr. Moucell. 

*' Indeed she did. ' At home ' on Tuesday and 
Sunday afternoons, or she would be only too glad to 
receive me at any other time if I felt lonely and 
wanted to talk over my ' plans and projects, hopes and 
fears, with a sympathizing friend.' " 

" No, surely ? " 

" Yes, certainly ! When I told her my stay in 
London would be brief, and that I desired to see as 
much as possible in the limited time at my disposal 
she nodded sagely and replied : ' You will return to us 
ere long. London is a magnet that draws everyone 
towards it ; and when you do return, remember you 
have always a friend in me.' " 

" You must have produced a profound impres- 
sion ! " sarcastically. 

" Wait a little ; that was only the introduction. I 
said I did not think I should return, ' it might be for 
years, and it might be for ever,' and then she clutched 
my wrist with her poor skinny fingers and gasped out : 
' I have a presentiment ! I feel you will be again 
among us in a very short time. You will come back 
soon to London and not leave it again — unless ' — with 
a dreamy, far-away look — ' it may be — for the far 
East. ' " 

88 Did He Deserve It? 

'' The old simpleton ! She is always raving about 
some vague East ; perhaps she means Whitechapel ! " 

" ' Your book,' Mrs. Wilbraim went on," continued 
Mr. Mallow, " ' will be A Great Success ! ' — by-the-bye, 
how did she know I had written a book ? " 

" From Mrs. Eldon-Gannox, no doubt. Of course, 
when I asked for a second card, I was bound to say 
why and for whom I wanted it," returned Mr. Moucell, 
who felt rather uncomfortably on his defence. 

'' Thank you so much for asking at all. I was only 
wondering how my insignificant personality came to 
be discussed in London." 

*' I did not discuss it. I only told Mrs. Gannox that 
a friend of mine, who was going to set the Thames 
and every other river in the kingdom on fire, had 
promised to come and stay at South Lambeth, and 
that I should feel grateful if she would allow me to 
bring him to her reception. No doubt she of her 
kindness — for she is the kindest woman living — 
repeated my utterance. Voila toutP 

" It was good both of you and her. I now quite 
understand, though I confess I did feel amazed at the 
knowing way in which Mrs. Wilbraim talked about a 
book not yet published." 

" But about which there have been cunning para- 
graphs in the papers," returned Mr. Moucell triumph- 
antly. " My dear fellow, do you suppose Messrs. 
Gerant are not up to their business — that the firm 
was born yesterday ? Set your mind quite at ease. 
Everything has been done for you that could be done ; 
you have been announced, heralded, puffed. If you 
fail to win 3^our spurs, it will not be for lack of 
prophets foretelling victory." 

Did He Deserve It? 89 

" What you say is really most gratifying," replied 
the man fresh to all such experiences ; " but are 
these preliminary flourishes necessary ? " 

" Absolutely. The time has gone by when ' good 
wine needed no bush.' In our days the better the 
wine the more bush it requires, and I only hope your 
publishers may receive the reward they deserve, 
because they have striven their best to make your 
' Forefathers' Offences ' known." 

" And you think everyone we met at Mrs. Gannox's 
was aware I write ? " 

'' I can't answer for everyone, but if there were 
anyone ignorant he will be enlightened shortly." 

*' How strange ! " remarked Mr. Mallow humbly ; 
and it did seem strange to him — very strange. 
Twenty-four hours previously he had been but a 
curate — an Irish curate after Disestablishment — in a 
remote part of the country, where he had found it hard 
work to get forty of the congregation to listen to the 
best sermon he ever wrote ; and now in the hub of 
the universe he was a great man — at least, a man great 
enough to be thought about, talked to, conciHated, 
made much ot. 

He was the same, but his position had changed, and 
he could not understand how such a sudden transfor- 
mation was effected. 

" To return to Mrs. Wilbraim," he said at last, 
awkwardly enough. " When I reappear in London — 
which, according to her statement, I am to do almost 
immediately — she kindly gave me a standing invitation 
to her house, situated somewhere near Regent's 
Park, I gathered." 

" She does hang out in those parts," answered Mr. 

90 Did He Deserve It? 

Moucell, " and receives constantly. A lot of people 
go to her parties, not because she is very rich — which 
she is not — or grand, or clever, or amiable, or beauti- 
ful, but just because she catches every fresh celebrity 
and keeps him on view till he breaks away. She is 
the most arrant humbug in London, and the most 
barefaced flatterer living, so long as flattery can serve 
her turn. Please yourself ; but if I were you I would 
have nothing to do with her." 

" She is very anxious to know Mr. Thomas 

" That she may get him to publish those beautiful 
lines she wrote on a dead sparrow, doubtless. Oh, 
yes ; I know them — and her." 

" And she told me," continued Mr. Mallow, with 
the air of a man who wanted to get something off his 
mind, " that if I ever wished to portray a guileless, 
natural heroine, strong to bear, love and suffer, a true 
child of nature, I was at perfect liberty to study her 
for that purpose. She could a tale unfold, and ^vould 
unfold it for me, because she felt we were alike pure 
and noble. When she first looked in my face the 
thought flashed across her mind — ' That is my twin 
soul ; at last I have seen a man I could tncst.^ " 

" And you ? " 

" I need not say I vv^as deeply touched by such 
confidence, and could scarcely refrain from weeping ; 
but I managed to answer without shedding tears that 
I did not require a perfect heroine for my next book 
at all events, but should most gratefully remember 
her kind permission. 'Mind you do,' she returned ; 
' such a link as binds us together is not easily broken. 
I shall not change. I never have changed. I am 

Did He Deserve It ? 91 

the same to-day that I was when fourteen. As my 
poor dear father used to say — ' but I never heard 
what that gentleman observed, because, just when I 
was getting terribly frightened and feeling webs of fate 
were being woven around and about me, young Mr. 
Gannox took possession of the lady and spirited her 
away from my view. Is he step-son or step-grandson 
to the bride?" 

" Neither," replied Mr. Moucell, drily. 

'' Oh! I thought he might be a close relative." 

" Well, so he is in a way — the happy husband ! " 

" No ! " It would be impossible to describe the 
tone in which Mr. Mallow uttered this monosyllable. 

" Fact, I assure you." 

" Impossible ! monstrous ! incredible ! " 

" But true. That is Mr. Eldon-Gannox — Horace 
Eldon-Gannox — the lord and master of that gracious 
lady you saw to-day, and whom your mother also saw be- 
fore you were born, on the boards in fair Dublin City." 

" Such a marriage ought not to have been per- 
mitted ! " exclaimed Mr. Mallow with conviction. 

" How could you have prevented it ? They are 
both of full age." 

"Not a doubt of that." 

*' And in the next place, why should anyone have 
prevented it ? They are perfectly happy." 

" Still, it is a complete travesty. A man may not 
marry his grandmother." 

" She is not his grandmother." 

" But she might be." 

" Ah ! that is quite another matter." 

"What was the inducement — the temptation? Is 
she rich ? " 

92 Did He Deserve It? 

" No. It is he who has the money." 

" Well, then, why — why did he do such a thing ? " 

" I suspect, much for the same reason that a man 
will move heaven and earth to secure a rare coin, a 
first proof, an auk's egg, a black-letter folio. There 
was only one Maggie Tressily in the world. Whether 
you consider her valuable or not is quite beside the 
question. He did, and was prepared to pay any price 
— himself included — for the unique article." 

" Awful ! awful ! " , 

'' But why awful ? Is not Mrs. Gannox a charming 
woman ? " 

" Undoubtedly ; but she is not a charming wife for 
a young man." 

" Who was going straight away to perdition when 
he met her. He had the bit between his teeth, and 
was galloping fast to that place whence there is no 
return when she stopped him. Yes, she alone did it 
— at Monte Carlo. She took him in hand like a 
second Rarey, tamed and made him gentle and docile 
as a lamb. See what a position they hold, consider 
the people you saw at their house to-day, and then 
think of what their lives would have been apart ! He 
sowing wild oats, sure to produce a fearful harvest ; 
she not well off — her last husband made ducks and 
drakes of their joint fortunes — fretting her heart out, 
and ending her days in some poor lodging . No, believe 
me, it is a very suitable match. She will keep him 
straight ; she has given him a taste for better things. 
After a while you will read of him presiding at 
missionary meetings and laying the foundation-stones 
of churches, hospitals, shelters, homes, and so forth. 
In our imperfect state of society she could not have 

Did He Deserve It ? 93 

adopted him, so she did the next best thing and 
became his wife." 

" Why could she not have adopted him ? " 

" Because a woman never is too old for the breath 
of scandal to dim her fair fame. Their home is now 
so respectable bishops might ask, and have asked, a 
blessing at table. No bishop dare have done that 
with Mr. Eldon-Gannox posing as the prodigal son to 
an actress. After all, there is a great deal more 
common sense in this world's notions than men of 
your cloth are willing to believe. I nail my colours to 
the mast in defence of this ' monstrous ' marriage, and 
so will you after a while." 

Mr. Mallow shook his head, but did not speak. It 
is quite one thing for a man to know he is right and 
another to convince his neighbour he is wrong, and 
the young clergyman felt the new ground on which 
he was standing to be so very strange he dared not 
enter upon any argument respecting the still stranger 
ideas that dominated its inhabitants. What he had 
strongly in his mind were the Garden of Eden and 
our first mother ; but London seemed to differ as 
much from that fair land watered by four rivers as 
Mrs. Wilbraim did from his ideal of Eve. 

" At all events," said Mr. Moucell, " Mrs. Gannox 
will make her young man much happier than Mrs. 
Wilbraim does her old one, whom she hounds into 
the City to make money, and leads a dog's life at 

^' I should not like to be her husband, I think," 
replied Mr. Mallow, inwardly wondering why Mr. 
Moucell spoke so bitterly of one who was '' all nature," 
not being aware the lady, belonging to that sisterhood 

94 Did He Deserve It? 

who " know everything," had, when rebuffed by Lady 
Patricia and not assisted by Mr. Moucell, disclosed her 
acquaintance with facts she would have been prudent 
to forget ; and our proud Norman, amongst his other 
virtues, possessed the quality of being a good hater. 
It is one possessed likewise by many other worthy 
people, who never so much as heard of the Con- 


Anything duller than Mr. Clifton Jones' house it 
would be hard to conceive, but it made up in pro- 
priety for what it lacked in mirth. Not in the whole 
of London was there a more hopelessly respectable 
establishment. The domestic misfortunes which befell 
other folk passed on the opposite side, and, as it were, 
took off their hats to that immaculate mansion. No 
larky maids, no dashing up-to-date footmen found 
entrance there. Everything was staid, solemn, stupid. 
If any gay young girl found her way into the 
depressing rooms, where she looked as much out 
of place as a sunbeam in a November fog, her 
spirits were speedily reduced to a state more in 
keeping with the heavy atmosphere. It was a per- 
fectly safe house, to which doubtful guests were 
never invited. Mr. Clifton Jones was heavy as lead. 
Being very new himself, his talk naturally ran on the 
good old Tory rails laid down a century and more 
ago. The Fenlands were all of the same way of 
thinking. Progress, in their dictionary, meant 
retrogression. That the world should grow wiser, 
better, happier, seemed to them appalling ; the 
world had done very well when they, the Salwoods, 
were created, and though Nature had then broken 
that beautiful mould, it never occurred to them as 

96 Did He Deserve It ? 

otherwise than a grievance she should attempt to 
make another. 

Mr. Moucell could remember a time when the 
Fenland manners, though not their convictions, were 
very different, but that was ere they realized that 
others were marching quicker than they, and 
leaving them hopelessly in the rear. Now they said 
they liked to be in the rear — would not be in the van 
for any consideration. Conscientiously they believed, 
if everyone could only be persuaded — or made — to 
think as they thought and feel as they felt, rents 
would not drop, bad seasons would be unknown, 
insecure investments cease from troubling, the poor 
go back to Maypoles and garlands instead of Hyde 
Park demonstrations, the old rotten boroughs again 
be tolerated, and life grow once more liveable. Mr. 
Moucell never contradicted them ; perhaps his 
opinions, if he really had any, coincided with theirs. 
The world — his world — went very well while he 
dwelt within the Tory strongholds, and he saw no 
reason to doubt that it would still have gone very well 
with him had he stayed there. 

A man may be clever and quick both in seeing and 
understanding many things, but there is one thing he 
rarely comprehends, namely — that the companion 
who travels with him from cradle to grave, and 
seduces him into the paths of sin and folly, is 

It is he who moulds circumstances, not circum- 
stances which mould him ; consequently Mr. Moucell 
may have made a mistake in imagining his road 
would have been bordered with flowers had he never 
seen his pretty wife. 

Did He Deserve It ? 97 

The Fenlands were well affected towards Mr. 
Clifton Jones, spite of their predilection for " blue 
blood." Nothing succeeds like success, and his success 
had been remarkable. He was wealthy, and spent his 
wealth in a proper manner. He was a model husband 
and excellent father. No fear of his going off at a 
tangent, or losing all his money by putting too many 
eggs in one speculative basket. 

To Mr. Jones's select residence Mr. Moucell had 
secured an invitation for Mr. Mallow, simply by saying 
he could not accept one on his own account, because 
an Irish clergyman was coming to stay with him. 

Now, Lady Patricia's husband had his own reasons 
for desiring Mr. Moucell's presence at his dinner, 
and they were sufficient with him, wherefore he 
answered, — 

" Bring the gentleman with you. Any friend of 
yours must be welcome." 

" But he is not a friend of mine ; I never saw him in 
my life — I never heard his name till last September, 
and only asked him to my house to oblige Messrs. 
Gerant, the big publishers, who are bringing out a 
book for him." 

Mr. Jones paused. This was a check j but he did 
not like to be beaten, so asked, — 

*' Is he a clergyman of the Church of England ? " 

" Church of Ireland," corrected Mr. Moucell. 

" All the same. He isn't a Home Ruler, I 
suppose ? " 

^' I should say certainly not." 

" Then bring him." 

" Many thanks, I will ; but remember, I know 
nothing about him, except that Messrs. Gerant con- 


98 Did He Deserve It ? 

sider his book very clever. Whether he is young or 
old, rich or poor, of good family or destitute of a 
grandfather, are matters concerning which I am in 
complete ignorance." 

" We will risk all that," said the man, who knew too 
well what his own grandfather had been ; and so the 
matter was apparently settled. Only Mr. Moucell 
secretly made up his mind he would risk nothing ; 
that if Mr. Mallow were common-looking, deficient in 
manner, threadbare in apparel, possessed of an 
undesirable excess of accent, or objectionable in any 
way, he would simply telegraph he could not be present 
on the festive occasion — he would, though it cost him 
the Portman Square favour. It was one thing to have 
the Irishman at his house, but quite another to make 
a " holy show " of him and himself among the 
aristocracy. Truly, Mr. Moucell was a " very safe 
person " — that was what the Fenlands said of him in 
the former days. 

*' And how such a prudent fellow ever came to con- 
tract such a marriage is a mystery to me," wrote his 
male parent, wild with fury, for the land agent was 
unaware safe people sometimes fall into more serious 
errors than they who are accounted the world's 

Except, perhaps, a tall hat, there is nothing external 
which tests a man's breeding so much as evening 
dress ; but out of that ordeal Mr. Mallow emerged 
triumphant, and Mr. Moucell felt more than satisfied 
when they stepped into the hansom he had chartered 
for the occasion. 

He was in the company of a man who would do 
him credit, whom he could push on, who was worth 

Did He Deserve It ? 9g 

pushing on, and who should be pushed on if he 
married Joscelyne, as Mr. Moucell fully intended. So 
far the bridegroom-elect had not seen his wife that 
was to be ; he had, indeed, seen no member of his 
host's family ; only a middle-aged and extremely 
respectable-looking servant — the very pattern of a 
thorough good servant. 

She was not always got up in similar fashion, but 
Mr. Mallow fondly imagined she might be. 

As for Joscelyne, Mr. Moucell considered the best 
time for effecting an introduction would be at the 
breakfast table next morning. The girl's was such a 
fresh, rich, natural style of beauty that she looked as 
well in a simple gown as if dressed out for a ball. Yes, 
the morning would be best ; Joscelyne should then be 
on view, and afterwards her seven brothers and 
solitary sister, not to mention her aunt, might 
be cautiously brought under the young curate's 

Sometimes, however, " the best laid plans o' mice 
and men " are frustrated, and it proved so in this 
case. When morning came Mr. Moucell was unable 
to be present at breakfast, and the first member of his 
family Mr. Mallow had the privilege of beholding 
certainly proved a great surprise. This was the sort 
of thing, doubtless, Mr. Robert Burns had in his mind 
when he wrote of such matters going " agley." 

Meantime, however, it was night, and the hansom 
holding a northerly course for Portman Square. 

Mr. Moucell did not say much about Mr. Jones, 
only sufficient to show his companion " the lie of the 
land." He even omitted to mention the family 
politics, thinking he would leave Mr. Mallow a clear 

H 2 

icx) Did He Deserve It ? 

field, and let him conduct his own campaign un- 
warned. There are some men who never shock the 
proprieties. Mr. Mallow, he felt sure, was one of 

The dinner could not have been better, or the talk 
more safely conventional. 

Mr. Mallow had no fault to find with it. He had 
sat at great men's feasts before, and heard the same 
kind of conversation rippling smoothly on. Irre- 
sistibly the whole thing reminded him of " Shakspere 
and the musical glasses " in '' The Vicar of Wakefield," 
only with the fun of Miss Carolina Wilhelmina 
Skegg's subsequent observation judiciously omitted. 
Strange thoughts, like love, will venture in where they 
" daurna weel be seen." Certainly Mr. Jones's 
party was not the time or place to mention Miss 


Mr. Mallow produced a very favourable impression. 
" He is so quiet," said Lady Patricia, in the safe 
shelter of her own drawing-room. "He is so lively," 
declared the matron who had sat next to him. " He 
chatted away to me quite gaily. He knows some 
people I stayed with when a young girl. They had 
then a house which would have contained a t egiment, 
and an estate a man could not ride round in a day. 
Now Mr. Mallow tells me Sir Maurice has not a rood 
of land, and the last time he saw the dear old man was 
in narrow Dublin lodgings, where he manages to exist 
on the pittance his daughters— governesses — contrive 
to send him." 

" No uncommon case, alas ! " This from Lady 
Patricia, who spoke with the air of an oracle. 

*' That does not make it any the easier for poor Sir 

Did He Deserve It ? loi 

Maurice, who was extravagant, doubtless, but the 
kindest, most generous creature in the world." 

" How sad ! " " How terrible ! " "I confess I am 
unable to conceive how people endure such reverses." 
'* It would kill me I know," and so the little murmur- 
ing conversational brook trickled on its way through 
that fashionable assembly, singing a song which, though 
it had no meaning and little melody, served to pass 
time and fill up gaps till the gentlemen should appear. 

The gentlemen were rather longer in appearing 
than usual ; the fact being that a member of Par- 
liament, who was for ever asking questions in the 
hope of obtaining information he had not brains to 
make use of when he got it, after the ladies' departure 
fired this conundrum at Mr. Mallow, — 

''Now, can you tell me what your countrymen 
want ? " 

" I cannot," answered Mr. Mallow. '' I don't 
believe they know themselves." 

" Just what I have said over and over again," as 
indeed he had, to the great weariness of many persons. 
*' Have not I ? " 

" That you have," returned Lord Fenland for his 
son-in-law, who was slow of speech. 

" They want, of course, the land free," observed 
Mr. Mallow, harking back to the original question ; 
" but if that were granted to-morrow, they would at 
once demand to be paid for paying no rent." 

" Paid for paying no rent ! Ha, ha, ha ! very good 
indeed ! " 

"It is not original," confessed Mr. Mallow. 

" I thought I had heard it before somewhere," 
which was a delusion, '' but it is an excellent idea for 

102 Did He Deserve It ? 

all that " — so excellent that the M.P. intended to 
trot it out for the benefit of his luckless constituents 
on the occasion of their next merry meeting. 

" And what, Mr. Mallow, if I may venture to ask, is 
your panacea for all the ills of Ireland ? " asked the 
Marquis in dulcet accents. 

"I have none," was the prompt reply. "I am 

'' Surely not ! " 

" Indeed it is too true. I have read the tale of the 
centuries handed down in Irish history, and find it all 
through disfigured with the same record that is being 
written to-day. What can be done with a country 
in which patriotism means party, and Christianity 
orange or green ? " 

" But that to a certain extent is the case in every 
country, I imagine," put in Mr. Moucell. 

" Perhaps ; but not to such an extent. No ; the Irish 
are just the same to-day as they were when it was 
said they were always 

Fighting like devils for Conciliation, 

And hating each other for the love of God." 

Involuntarily Mr. Moucell glanced round the room, 
in which probably such words had never before been 
spoken ; yet the walls showed no signs of falling in 
and crushing those assembled. 

*' A very remarkable statement," observed theM.P., 
feeling he had opened a mine of quotation. "I will 
ask you to write it down for me." 

" Where did you chance upon those lines, Mallow ? " 
asked Mr. Moucell, who breathed again. 

" I forget ; in some old ballad I believe." 

Did He Deserve It ? 103 

" I wish the author would give us a * No Rent ' 
ballad in the same style," said the M.P. 

" We are fast coming to ' No Rent ' in England." 
This of course from the Most Noble. 

" Let us hope, however, the demand may not be 
italicized with a bullet from behind a hedge," ex- 
claimed Mr. Moucell cheerfully. 

He who was not a landlord could contemplate 
the possibility of blank quarter-days with equanimity. 


The Clilton Jones were early people, yet it was close 
on midnight ere two of their guests arrived at South 
Lambeth. West End cabmen do not generally jump 
at the prospect of driving " a late fare to the Surrey 
side " of Thames, and consequently anyone un- 
accustomed to such matters might have marvelled to 
hear how many horses were just returning to their 
stables, and how many men had appointments to 
take up *' partys " close at hand, when Mr. Moucell 
expressed his desire to proceed to " about a hundred 
yards beyond Vauxhall Station." 

For this reason the pair had to wait for the 
lingering 'bus and the tardy tram, loth to start with- 
out a fair number of passengers ; and as a finish 
walked over Vauxhall Bridge, and so home. 

Though he showed no outward sign of weariness, 
Mr. Mallow felt more tired than he ever remembered 
to have been before. 

The first day in London always proves trying to 
a stranger, unaccustomed to its continual movement, 
its ceaseless roar of traffic. 

Further, a boring talk about Ireland, Disestab- 
lishment, Ulster versus the other three Provinces, 
Home Rule, Old Grievances, New Demands, had 
tried the young clergyman's patience and politeness 

Did He Deserve It ? 105 

Mr. Moucell intended his little shaft to end the 
discussion, but it only served as the beginning of 
more folly. 

After many pangs Mr. Clifton Jones successfully 
delivered himself of the not new suggestion that 
putting the Gem of the Sea under water for twenty- 
four hours would settle all her troubles. 

"If I could have my will, that is what I should do,'' 
he said, putting forward the remark as if it were his 
dearly-loved first-born. 

In a man's own house, no one had the discourtesy 
to tell him the cynical bantling belonged to another, 
but Mr. Mallow was courageous enough to observe, — 

" Very like cutting off a fellow's head to cure his 

" So it is, really," said Lord Fenland, struck with 
amazement the similarity had not occurred to him 

Then it entered into Mr. Clifton Jones's mind that 
the Irish parson was not so desirable an acquaintance 
as he at first imagined, consequently when, after all 
their guests had departed, Lady Patricia began to 
sing his praises, he remarked, — 

" I am not quite sure ; there is something about 
him — eh — ? " 

" Well, perhaps you are right," agreed her ladyship, 
who, though she had not the faintest idea of what he 
meant, knew from long experience it was true wisdom 
to seem to understand. 

Following on the under-water solution of Erin's 
never-ending, always-beginning woes, there ensued 
a long discussion as to why Ireland did not prosper, 
and Mr. Mallow was once again appealed to. 

io6 Did He Deserve It? 

" It is difficult to say," he answered. " The land 
is as good, or as bad, as ever, the climate is no worse, 
wages are not much higher, and if they were it would 
make little difference when a farmer's family are, as 
a rule, his more or less unskilled labourers. I know 
nothing, I can tell you nothing about the matter. 
Away from their own land, the Irish are able to push 
themselves to the front as well as other people, but 
somehow they fail at home. Whether it is the air, 
or the soil, or the melancholy ocean, one thing only 
is certain — that they do not get on." 

" And yet, see what we have given them ! We 
have thrown our most cherished convictions over for 
their benefit like — " 

" Children to the wolves," supplied the M.P. 
" And what has been the result ? " 

" That we have done them more harm than good." 
And so the woeful refrain was continued for a good 
half hour, till Mr. Mallow wished he dared leave the 
party to sing their Jeremiad in his absence. 

Because, when a man honestly believes a case is 
past cure, or at least that nothing save a miracle can 
aid the patient's recovery, it is trying to hear his 
symptoms repeated over and over again, and the 
opinions of various doctors quoted to the same un- 
satisfactory effect. 

He knew there were righteous men in Ireland, as 
there have ever been, but he also knew whatever 
good they might try to effect would be neutralized by 
outside interferers, who, being apt to forget theories 
are not facts, do more damage in an hour than hard 
practical labour can repair in a month. 

It had never occurred to him that on the first night 

Did He Deserve It ? 107 

of his London holiday the Irish question would be 
produced, in its most aggravated and irritating form ; 
nevertheless he could but possess his soul with 
patience, conscious he ought to have enjoyed himself, 
though he failed to do so. 

The dining-room at South Lambeth looked home- 
like and cheerful when they returned. A bright fire 
blazed on the hearth, supper was laid, a brass kettle 
murmured a low song of welcome ; everything 
seemed to promise an hour or two of pleasant chat, 
not unaided by material assistance. 

"Now we can be comfortable," said Mr. Moucell, 
flinging himself with a sigh of content into an easy 
chair, after ensconcing his guest in one exactly 
similar. " I never think ' there is no place like home ' 
so certainly as after having spent the evening at some 
great house. 

Mr. Mallow laughed. 

" Dressing-gown and pipe business, I suppose ? " 

" Exactly. By-the-bye, here are some cigars I 
should like you to try after supper." 

'' You do not expect me to eat any supper ? " 

" Certainly I do ! One never gets anything to eat 
when one dines out ! " 

" I did, at all events, and can take no more food, 
thank you." 

" Then what will you have — some claret, or your 
national beverage, hot, strong and sweet, for a night- 
cap ? " 

" Dare I say what I should like best ? " 

" By all means ; this is Liberty Hall. I wish you 
to have and do exactly what you please." 

" Then may I go to bed ? Don't be shocked : I 

io8 Did He Deserve It? 

feel as if about six months had passed since I left 
Kingstown. It is a shameful confession, but I am 
tired to death, and was actually afraid of falling asleep 
in Lady Patricia's drawing-room." 

" How stupid of me to forget you had been 
travelling all night ! I feel sorry — pray forgive me. 
Come upstairs at once. Is there anything I can get 
for you ? Sure you have what you want ? Give me 
a call if you need anything. You do look fagged out. 
Good-night and pleasant dreams — or rather, no 
dreams," with which kindly wish, prompted, doubt- 
less, by long personal experience, Mr. Moucell shut 
his guest in and betook himself to supper. Then he 
went into the study, read his letters, put on a loose 
serge coat, lit a cigar, and sitting down to write, 
wrote for hours, the while Mr. Mallow, blissfully 
forgetful of the Irish, and indeed all other, questions, 
slept the sleep of the just. 

It was past eight o'clock next morning when he 
av\^oke and looked at his watch. The hours seemed 
to have gone like a moment. It really did not appear 
five minutes since, weary and heavy, he lay down to 
rest, and now it was daylight, and the world's business 

How still the house, however ! No sound of busy 
maid, or clattering pail, or swishing broom, of 
children running up and down stairs, of elder folk 
talking, or bells ringing — all inside quiet as death. 
It was very odd when contrasted with the external 
din caused by the South Western Railway. Shrieking 
engines warning signalmen with fiendish clamour of 
their approach, shook the windows and rattled the 
glass ; long trains bound for far-off termini rushed along 

Did He Deserve It? 109 

the line as if determined to destroy everything by the 
way ; while inside Mr. Moucell's home those who 
moved — if anyone moved — seemed shod with velvet. 

Evidently Mr. Mallow had not been called. Doubt- 
less Mr. Moucell, remembering his over-night's 
weariness, desired that he should have his sleep out. 
Still, drowsy as he felt, he could not lie there all day. 
He must be up and doing ; having arrived at which 
conclusion, he rose and dressed, pausing every now 
and then to wonder at the thunder of the trains — the 
quiet of the house. 

Not a footfall disturbed the stillness. There might 
have been no soul in the dwelling save himself. He 
began to feel as if he Vere in some enchanted castle, 
and was about to sally forth in search of such adven- 
tures as enchanted castles hold, when the long silence 
was unexpectedly broken by a wailing, angry, fright- 
ened yell, just outside his own door. 

" Jo ! Jo ! Jo i Jo ! " screamed a child, and the 
scream was followed by a sort of secular comminatory 
service compared with which the denunciations hurled 
at a sinful world from Mount Ebal would have 
sounded tame. 

For a moment Mr. Mallow stood aghast. He 
did not belong to the " straitest sect " ; it had been 
his lot to hear the familiarly profane way in which 
Irish urchins use as common oaths, names held most 
sacred ; but what his experience lacked was a 
knowledge of the rich variety of expletive possessed 
by the London gutter boy, who, on the smallest 
pretext — often on none at all — flings to the four winds 
of heaven curses rich and rare with a prodigality 
which amounts to extravagance. 

no Did He Deserve It? 

" Set of blasted fools ! " After this fashion ran the 
South Lambeth excommunication. " I only wish 

I had the idiots here, and I'd soon knock 

their two eyes into one, if I wouldn't ! 

Oh ! Jo ! Jo ! Jo ! where the have you got 


As the last words sounded strangled, as though 
suffocation were imminent, Mr. Mallow thought it 
was time to intervene. Walking out on to the 
landing, he saw standing about half-way up the 
next flight of stairs a skinny little lad, save for a 
pair of long stockings, and a flannel vest he was 
vainly struggling to pull over his head, naked as the 
day he was born, and quite as cross. 

" Hillo, old man, what is wrong ? What do you 
want ? " asked Mr. Mallow. 

" Ain't an old man ! " came from amid the con- 
fused folds of that demoniac garment ; " and this 
thing is choking me, and I want Jo." 

*' Who is Jo?" 

" Just Jo — who else should she be ? " 

'' Oh ! Jo is a she, then ! " 

*' Of course ! You wouldn't have a girl a he, 
would you ? I say, is she in your room ? " 

Here was a suggestion to be hurled at an un- 
offending stranger — and a clergyman ! Mr. Mallow, 
however, did not repel it with scorn ; he only said, 
" No, she is not ; but I can help you on with your 
vest, if that is what you want her for. You have got 
it twisted ! Take that left arm out — quiet, quiet, 
boy ! or you will tear the thing to bits ! " 

" I wish I could — into ten thousand — tatters ! " said 

Did He Deserve It? m 

the piping voice in tones of fury, while a httle flushed 
face, surmounted by a mass of tumbled light hair, 
emerged from the offending vest, which Mr. Mallow 
pulled down over his lean body. 


" Jo," said someone downstairs, who stood in the 
passage leading to a conservatory, " the Apostle is 
at the drawing-room door, cursing hard enough to 
blow the roof off ! " 

There was a clatter, as if a watering-can had been 
dropped, then, — 

" Oh, dear ! that child will break my heart ! I 
can't go up as I am ; run like a good boy and get 
him away. Promise him anything if he will only be 
good and quiet." 

Mr. Mallow heard distinctly, and so apparently 
did the young gentleman who had, through the 
stranger's kind offices, been rescued from the perils of 
his own raiment ; for, only imperfectly clothed though 
he was, he sat down on the first stair and calmly 
awaited the coming footsteps, that were beside him in 
an instant. 

The new arrival was a lad of over fifteen, who 
looked wofully disconcerted when he saw Mr. 
Mallow advancing to meet him with a pleasant smile 
and outstretched hand. 

'' You are another of Mr. Moucell's sons, I suppose ? " 
he said. 

" I am so sorry, sir — " began the poor boy, 

Did He Deserve It? 113 

glancing at the sketchily-attired figure sprawling close 

" That I was able to save your brother from 
strangulation," finished Mr. Mallow. 

" That you should see him in such a plight. He 
was told to stay quietly in bed till someone came to 
dress him. Paul, you are naughty ! " 

" It is you who are naughty — to leave me all alone 
by my own self." 

" You don't like being left alone ? " questioned Mr. 

" No more does any of them. And they leave me 
alone for ever so long — for hours sometimes. They 
did this morning." 

" Oh, Paul, what a story ! It is not twenty 
minutes since Jo asked you to lie still till she came up 

The model for a lean cherub did not answer this 
accusation, only picked bits of worsted out of the 

" May I inquire why you call him the Apostle ? I 
heard you doing so just now, did I not ? " 

" Because he uses such dreadful language." 

" But surely you do not imagine St. Paul ever — " 

" If you remember, sir, Paul in his unregenerate 
days breathed out threatenings," said Edgar with calm 
confidence, as Mr. Mallow paused, rather at a loss how 
to end his sentence. " Our Paul is always threatening 
somebody ; only yesterday he said he would stick a 
knife into my sister ! " 

" She's my sister, too, and I will stick a knife into 
her if she doesn't behave herself! " 

'' Meantime, don't you think it might be as well to 


114 Did He Deserve It? 

put on some clothes ? You will catch your death of 
cold if you stay much longer where you are, as you 

The Apostle picked more bits of worsted out of the 

'* Had not you better take him back to where he 
came from?" suggested Mr. Mallow, speaking to Edgar. 

" Yes," rather doubtfully. " Come along, Paul." 

But Paul sat as one who, having ears, hears not. 

*' Don't make a donkey of yourself ! " remonstrated 
his brother ; " get up and come with me, and you'll 
see what Jo will give you." 

^' I know what I will give her for leaving me while 
she goes off amusing herself — one on the side of the 
head — that'll make her see stars ! " 

" Where do you want him to go ? " asked Mr. 
Moucell's guest, as though merely anxious for general 

" Upstairs," answered Edgar, a little hopelessly. 

*' Lead the way, then," said Mr. Mallow, taking the 
unregenerate Apostle in his arms, where he held him 
so tight that though Paul struggled and screamed he 
failed to make his escape. 

" He will wake father ! he will wake father ! " ex- 
claimed Edgar in a tone of deep anxiety. 

" Make haste ! " was Mr. Mallow's only answer, as 
he hurriedly followed up the last flight across the top 
landing, into a spacious, though low room, containing 
five small beds, on one of which he laid Paul, and pulled 
the coverings over him, at the same time saying, " He 
will be all right now." 

" Shan't ! " declared Paul, kicking the clothes off 

Did He Deserve It? 115 

" Very well, then ; be all wrong, if more pleasant 
to you." 

'' 'Tisn't pleasant ! it is all horrid ! I want Jo ! I'm 
going to shout till she comes ! " and forthwith he 
recommenced his " recital." 

*' Paul, you wretched boy, you'll wake father ! " 
repeated his brother. 

" Then everybody will catch it for neglecting me," 
which remark threw light on what had seemed to Mr. 
Mallow a very dark mystery, and induced him to 
close the door, a proceeding which so aroused Paul's 
curiosity that he stinted his wail for a moment in order 
to see what would happen next. 

" Is Mr. Moucell ill ? " asked Mr. Mallow, having 
in his mind the probable effect of a hearty supper at 
South Lambeth after that dinner in Portman Square, 
the former most likely topped up with punch. 

It was a natural bit of Pharisaism, for which the 
young clergyman almost immediately felt properly 
ashamed when Edgar said, — 

" No, he is not ill ; only he sat up all night." 

" Sat up all night ? " astonished. 

*' Yes, writing ; he often has to do that," explained 
the boy proudly. 

" Oh ! if he had work to finish, why did he go out 
with me?" cried Mr. Mallow impulsively. "I am 
sorry ! " 

" The order did not come till after you had gone. 
It was something wanted all in a hurry. He did not 
finish till nearly six this morning, and now he is 
asleep — if Paul's yelling has not disturbed him. Paul 
always gets into these tantrums when we want the 
house kept quiet." 

I 2 

ii6 Did He Deserve It? 

Hearing which accusation, the culprit, who had 
raised himself on his elbow the better to listen, let his 
head drop on the pillow, and began hammering the 
mattress with his heels — a very bad sign. 

" Your father must have his sleep out in peace," said 
Mr. Mallow. " I think this young gentleman will be 
good if I stay with him — which I shall be delighted to 
do. Tell your sister not to be anxious. You can let 
me know when she is at leisure." 

'' You are kind " — gratefully — " but — " 

" You had better leave us ; I feel sure your brother 
will do what I ask him," and Mr. Mallow nodded 
encouragingly to Edgar as he went downstairs, then 
shutting the door, the curate drew a chair beside Paul, 
who by this time was humming a wordless tune of 
defiance, and looking out of the corners of his eyes 
at his new antagonist as if measuring strength with 

Mr. Mallow took no notice and made no remark. 

For a time the wordless tune went on, increasing 
in speed and noise, and still Mr. Mallow held his 

Suddenly the lad flung himself on the floor, and 
commenced kicking with might and main, while the 
cry, *' Jo ! Jo ! Jo ! " echoed like a shrill pibroch 
through the room. 

" I would not shout in that way if I were you," was 
the calm comment ; " no one can hear you." 

Paul did not answer ; but, evidently inspired with 
the idea that somebody soon should, gathered up his 
little self and rushed to the door, which, however, Mr. 
Mallow reached before him and locked, when, finding 
himself foiled, the small sinner threw himself once 

Did He Deserve It? 117 

more to the ground, where he kicked and yelled and 
sobbed, and gave vent to strange imprecations, till, 
perfectly exhausted, he turned on his side, and lay like 
one dead, his fury well-nigh spent, the hour of his evil 
possession almost ended. 

Then Mr. Mallow gently lifted and once more 
placed him on the bed. 

''I am so sorry for you, child," he said tenderly, 
kissing the face stained with tears, distorted by passion. 
Paul's sole reply to the caress was an impatient jerk, 
and when his new friend once again drew some cover- 
ing over him, he made a frantic plunge which restored 
matters to their original condition. 

It was a weary and apparently profitless game, and 
Mr. Mallow resumed his seat, wondering whether there 
were any single thing he could say or do likely to 
exorcise the demons that dwelt within the unhappy 
Paul, who, now perfectly still and silent, was breathing 
in little low gasps, after the manner of one tired out. 

" It was not the distance but the pace " which had 
told on him ; and, worn out by his fit of wild rage, he 
at last lay as completely '* done " as a man might have 
felt after running for a wager. 

Suddenly he shivered and moved as if seeking for 
warmth. Then Mr. Mallow wrapped him up, and 
once again placed his head more comfortably on 
the pillow. Shortly he became conscious that the boy 
was stretching out a stealthy hand towards him ; 
nearer and nearer that hand approached till it lay like 
a tiny lump of ice in his. 

That was the first sign of grace Paul had shown, and 
one which caused Mr. Mallow's heart to rejoice. Just 
then there came a knock at the door. 

ii8 Did He Deserve It? 

It was Edgar, who returned to say, " My sister is 
very grateful, sir, and she will be here directly, and 
would you please go down to breakfast in the room 
where you breakfasted yesterday morning ? Aunt is 
waiting for you." 

He gave this message evidently direct from head- 
quarters, straight off, as a parrot might ; and Mr. 
Mallow felt he had no choice save to comply with the 
request it contained, though he would rather have 
stayed where he was. 

^' Yes, I will find my way," he answered ; " I think 
your brother is asleep," and he would have added an 
entreaty that Paul might not be scolded, but, remem- 
bering in time silence is golden, left the words unsaid. 


When Mr. Mallow entered the dining-room he was 
received by an elderly lady of homely but pleasant 
appearance, who hoped he had slept well and not 
been disturbed by the trains. 

Reassured on both points, she apologized for Mr. 
Moucell's non-appearance, and explained that gentle- 
man often made what he jestingly called '' a night of 
it," which she should have thought must be very bad 
for' anyone's health, but that seemed to agree with him. 

After some wise and weighty remarks concerning 
the eccentricities of literary people, which Mr. Mallow, 
though by no means hypercritical, could not avoid 
noticing she pronounced *' exontricities," she proceeded 
at great length to explain her precise relationship to 
one author. 

She told him how her dear niece had married Mr. 
Moucell — a love match, if ever there was one ! — and 
how she had resided with the happy pair from, she 
might say, '' the first days of their married life " till 
the sad morning when Mrs. Moucell died, just about 
three months after her last child was born. 

" I think you have seen the dear little fellow," she 
went on ; "a sadly delicate boy — I do hope he will get 
stronger as he grows up ; different from all the rest of 
the family — in appearance, temperament, constitution. 

120 Did He Deserve It ? 

Poor darling ! he is a mere bundle of nerves. Do 
help yourself to ham, Mr. Mallow ; or perhaps you 
prefer beef. Mr. Moucell, if it were possible, would 
keep the wind of heaven from blowing on poor Paul — 
thinks we do not consider him sufficiently ; yet I am 
sure my niece — oh, here you are Joscelyne ! I 
thought you never were coming," as there entered, to 
the visitor's surprise, what he mentally called '' a slip 
of a girl," young, pretty, slight — the very antithesis of 
the guardian angel he had pictured keeping watch 
and ward over the inmates of Mr. Moucell's abode. 
That angel was sallow, pensive — not to say melan- 
choly — dull-eyed ; wore her drab-coloured hair 
smoothly banded in front, and after a carefully 
arranged lattice-work fashion at the back. An 
excellent woman, though dispiriting ; and her proper 
name was Josephine, shortened by light-hearted boys 
irreverently to Jo. 

But in a trice all this changed, and there appeared 
a strangely different reality — bright as morning, fresh 
as spring — lithe, graceful, active — who could no doubt 
tread a measure or dance a sailor's hornpipe — ay, and 
it might be whistle one, too. 

On her cheeks roses bloomed amid white lilies ; 
blue were her eyes — a blue so deep they looked at 
times almost black ; dimples played about her mouth ; 
altogether a winsome maid, with her wealth of dark- 
brown hair hanging down her back, loose, save 
for a ridiculous bow of red ribbon, which was 
supposed to keep the streaming tresses in place. It 
did not, though, as Mr. Mallow found out to his sorrow 
subsequently ; but at the moment the girl burst upon 
his sight he was not disposed to be captious. 

Did He Deserve It? 121 

She looked such a perfect Jo — such a delightful 
sister, such a natural, unaffected, contented, willing, 
capable young comrade — that Mr. Mallow's heart 
went straight out to her, and he took the hand she 
frankly offered with a strange feeling, as though he 
had known her for years. 

''Good morning," she said, without the smallest 
embarrassment. '' I hope you feel rested. Father 
said you were so tired with yesterday's doings, you 
ought to sleep as long as possible. I do hope Paul 
did not wake you." 

" On the contrary, I was dressed when his invoca- 
tion began. Consequently we had quite a pleasant 
interview on the stairs before your ill-judged bribe 
reached his ears." 

''What bribe?" 

" You said — promise him anything if he will only 
be good and quiet." 

" So I did — I had forgotten. I was in despair." 

" But he evidently knew you could be depended 
on to perform. I never before saw any child take a 
front seat more keenly conscious he was master of the 

" Why, what was he doing ! " asked Mrs. Howley, 
who had been kept in ignorance of all particulars 
save that " Mr. Mallow had made friends with the 
Apostle " — a cheering bit of intelligence imparted to 
her by Edgar. 

"When I first saw him he was rending the air with 
yells for some absent Jo, who I at first thought must 
be a man ; but he soon set me right on that point. 
You are Jo, Miss Moucell, I presume ? " 

" Yes, I am Jo." 

122 Did He Deserve It? 

" He then allowed me the privilege of assisting at 
his toilet, and between us we managed to get a flannel 
vest over his head." 

" It was the usual trouble, aunt," explained Josce- 
lyne, helping herself to a piece of toast. " He will try 
to dress himself unless I am near, the instant he wants 
to get up, and he always comes to grief with his vest." 

" I trust he did not — ? " in a tone of real anxiety. 

" Express himself strongly," finished Mr. Mallow, 
as the lady paused. '' Truth compels me to say he 
did. Perhaps, however, his indignation was natural. 
It is not pleasant to feel one is being throttled. Many 
a hard wrestle I hadwith a similar piece of iniquity in 
the days of my youth, and I am bound to say I did not 
like the experience." 

" You did not talk in the way he does, I am very 
sure," said Mrs. Howley. 

" His vocabulary is certainly a copious one. I 
never before heard so many words employed to 
convey the same meaning. I did not know there 
were so many, in fact." 

" Ah ! it all comes of Southend," sighed Mrs. 

" Of— ? " suggested Mr. Mallow, who failed to 

" When the poor child was barely six years old," 
proceeded Mrs. Howley didactically, " he fell into such 
a sad state of health — I told you he had always been 
ailing — that we were glad to put him under the care 
of an old invalid lady residing at Southend. He 
stayed there eight months, and this " — very solemnly — 
" is the result." 

" But surely," exclaimed Mr. Mallow, surprised, as 

Did He Deserve It? 123 

well he might be, " your invalid friend did not indulge 
in such superfluities of speech as those with which 
Master Paul adorns his artless discourse ? " 

" No, no ! that is not what my aunt means," said 
Joscelyne, laughing, moved to mirth by the sight of 
Mrs. Howley's horror-stricken face. 

"Mrs. Casedale is most correct in all ways; a true 
Christian, a perfect lady in every respect," went on 
Mrs. Howley. Joscelyne did not look at anyone while 
Mrs. Casedale's merits were being recited, only straight 
out at The Lawn. " Paul never could have heard a 
doubtful word in her house ; but, unhappily, she 
hired a little maid to attend on him." 

" And was the little maid given to swearing ? " 
asked Mrs. Mallow, greatly interested. 

" No ; but, as it turned out afterwards, she fell into 
a dreadful habit of leaving our dear one alone on the 
beach, while she went down the pier with her friends — 
just imagine ! — and Paul, always afraid of being alone, 
was only too well pleased to play among a number of 
rough boys; and you hear what they taught him. 
When Mrs. Casedale used to ask the child where they 
had been, he answered, ' On the beach, gathering 
shells,' but never said a word about his companions. 
So readily do the young acquire habits of deceit." 

Mr. Mallow listened to this story with rapt attention, 
regarding Mrs. Howley the while intently. 

" And did the invalid lady ever discover what was 
going on ? " he asked after a pause. 

" She did, quite by accident, of course ; then she 
telegraphed for me. Happily Mr. Moucell was from 
home, or he must have been told the worst. As it is, 
we live in dread of his learning the terrible things 

124 Did He Deserve It ? 

Paul says when angry. I do hope, Mr. Mallow" — 
very earnestly — "you will not betray us, or the 
consequences may be dreadful ! " 

"You may rely on my discretion/' he answered, 
vaguely considering what would happen if he were 
not discreet. "But — pardon me for asking — do you 
think it is well to keep Mr. Moucell in ignorance of 
his son's remarkable acquirements ? " 

" He would never forgive me if he knew — he would 
never forgive any of us." 

" I trust you are mistaken. Still, whatever the 
result, I feel strongly of opinion he should be told. I 
am speaking quite seriously," he went on. " His son 
has fallen into a bad habit, which ought to be checked 
at once. Of course, the child means no harm ; but it 
is harm, and his father is the proper person to decide 
how so undesirable a propensity can best be cured." 

"You are quite right, Mr. Mallow," interposed 
Joscelyne, before her aunt could make any reply ; 
"father ought to know. It is shocking to hear a 
child making use of such expressions, as if they were 
only common, every-day words. I have said so for a 
long time ; and as for Southend, the trouble began 
long before he ever went there." 

" My dear, how can you say so ? " mildly expos- 
tulated Mrs. Howley. 

" It is the truth, aunt. Jane was the cause of all 
Paul's dreadful language." 

" A better servant than Jane I would never desire, 
I was grieved when she went," a little acrimoni- 

Joscelyne made no reply, an d Mr. Mallow said, — 

" The thing to do now is to try and break your 

Did He Deserve It? 125 

nephew of a very bad habit. In mercy to him, you 
should grapple with the difficulty at once." 

" You are eating nothing," said Mrs. Howley, who 
did not wish for advice if she were expected to 
follow it. " Try this quince jelly ; Mr. Moucell 
is very partial to quince, whether as jelly or pre- 

" Thank you, not any." 

" Dear, dear ! I wish I knew what you liked." 
"Hike everything — even an east wind ! " 
"Then you cannot be very delicate," returned 
Mrs. Howley, who was apt to take such remarks very 

" Not at all delicate, I am thankful to say." 
" You have cause to be thankful. There are some 
that never know what it is to feel well." 

" My father desired me to tell you, Mr. Mallow," 
interposed Joscelyne, aware from weary experience 
for how long a time her aunt could keep up the 
shuttlecock of small talk, " that a parcel looking 
suspiciously like proof came from Messrs. Gerant last 
night. I thought you would like to be quiet while 
correcting it, and so have left everything you are 
likely to require in the drawing-room. When you 
are ready, however, I will go upstairs with you, and 
you can then tell me if there should chance to be any 
little matter I have forgotten." 

Most thankfully Mr. Mallow rose, and begging Mrs. 
Howley to excuse him, followed Joscelyne into a 
prettily-furnished apartment, where, on a table placed 
conveniently for writing purposes, he saw a package 
containing his " first proof." 


What pen might dare attempt to describe the 
rapture of that meeting when Desmond Mallow, 
catting open the envelope, saw his own work in type ? 
No one witnessed that rapture, for Joscelyne, 
scarcely entering the room, left it immediately, 
shutting the author and his exultation in securely. 

If ever there were a happ man, it was Desmond 
Mallow as he unrolled the sheets, and, spreading them 
flat on the table, tried to read. But he could not read 
at first, for a mist of joy hung between him and the 
printed page, which caused many letters to perform 
strange antics and appear to be gyrating instead of 
remaining quietly in their proper places. After a 
short time, however, his excitement subsided, and he 
settled to work with a curious feeling that he had 
suddenly changed into somebody else — somebody 
who had actually written a book ! How unreal it all 
seemed ! 

Talk of a woman's first child ! Pshaw ! a first 
child is nothing when compared with a man's first 
book. Print is what does it ; print did it that 
morning in South Lambeth, when the old trees 
loomed black across the road, their bare branches 
looking lonely and forlorn as seen through a grey, 
depressing mist which enwrapped the South ot 

Did He Deserve It? 127 

But the gloom did not touch Desmond Mallow's 
heart ; it was bright with the sunshine of unalloyed 
content. Correcting proof is not as a rule an exhila- 
rating occupation ; many more entrancing modes of 
passing time might readily present themselves to the 
imagination of those who have been correcting for so 
long a period they may be excused for forgetting that 
they too once viewed with ecstasy sheets on which 
thoughts no man dictated unto them were printed — 
thoughts so wise, tender, and holy as to seem strange 
even in their own eyes ; but to Mr. Mallow the work 
was a pleasure. 

It is generally thus at the beginning, when a young 
author is apt to think what he has written all too good 
for a bad world, which, however, he may help to 
make better. 

Let him be still as modest as God created him, 
he will yet think The Thing produced too rare and 
beautiful for common use. Afterwards, the very 
same man correcting his own proofs will in his sad 
moments consider what on earth anybody can see in 
his books ; how it chanced he ever earned a reputa- 
tion ! 

On that November morning, however, such de- 
pressing ideas were as foreign as coming death to the 
mind of Desmond Mallow. The sunshine in his 
heart made summer out of winter, clothed the bare 
trees with green, and strewed the sodden earth with 
flowers - 

One of those leaflets issued occasionally by printers 
to instruct ignorant persons how to use the cabalistic 
signs needful in correcting had been laid on the table, 
and the young Irishman so quickly assimilated this, to 

128 Did He Deserve It? 

him, new language that before three hours had passed 
his proof was a sight which might well have appalled 
any compositor. He played with that leaflet, indeed, 
as a child plays with a new toy, employing it for the 
consternation of all and sundry who might have to do 
with his book, in the same manner that a healthy 
infant exercises its lungs on a penny whistle, to the 
terror of adults. 

Trouble was nothing to him ; he revelled in his 
self-imposed task ; he corrected freely, he inserted, 
and then amended his insertions ; he scored out, only 
in order to replace ; and was just considering how 
capitally the duplicate proof would enable him to 
make a fair copy when, turning his head, he beheld 
Mr. Moucell standing on the hearthrug, looking at 
him with a somewhat enigmatical smile. 

" How does your book read ? " asked that gentle- 
man, dispensing with all formal greeting, and going at 
once to the root of the matter. 

" Better than I expected," answered Mr. Mallow, 
with an affectation of indifference which did not 
deceive the elder man. 

"A good book always does read better in print, and 
a bad in manuscript," he observed oracularly. •' Many 
errors ? " 

'' There are," replied the author, who was unaware 
the mistakes of that " arch humorist," the compositor, 
were those referred tX). 

" Indeed ! " exclaimed Mr. Moucell ; " I am sur- 
prised ! Gerants employ the best men. I wonder 
how it happens. May I look ? " and he held out his 
hand for the sheets, which, unconscious of sin, Mr. 
Mallow gave him. 

Did He Deserve It? 129 

Mr. Moucell had seen many things in his time, but 
nothing Hke unto *' The Offences of His Forefathers," 
as amended by its author, ever before or after came 
under his observation. 

There was Httle of the original left. From top to 
bottom the margin was black with marks and words 
substituted for those scored out. The literary man 
gazed at the result of nearly three hours' work with 
amazement, not to say horror, but held his peace as 
he glanced over page after page so profusely corrected 
as to be almost undecipherable. 

At last he broke silence with : " You are not going 
to return this to Messrs. Gerant, are you ? " 

"Oh, no; duplicate sheets have been sent, and I 
shall make a fair copy on them." 

*' Of this ? " and Mr. Moucell tapped the paper he 

" Yes," said Mr. Mallow, surprised his host should 
not apprehend more quickly. 

'' But, my good sir, a proof is not provided for a 
man to re-write his book on ! " 

" What is it provided for, then ? " 

" To enable the author to correct the printer's 
errors, and to set right any slip of his own." 

" That is just what I have done." 

" What you have done would practically involve 
resetting the whole thing ! " 

" Re — ? " suggested Mr. Mallow, who did not under- 

'' Re-printing, in other words. It would more 
than double the expense. Besides, this is not the book 
Messrs. Gerant bought, but quite a spurious bantling 
you would foist upon them." 


130 Did He Deserve It ? 

'^ Then what am I to do ? " 

" Give me the other proof, and I will soon show you. 
Here, you get up and let me have your chair for a 
minute. Now ! " and Mr. Moucell's eyes flew over the 
page, his quick pen made a couple of slight cor- 
rections, and so he went on till the last sheet that 
had arrived was finished, when he said, — 

" The next time, Mr. Mallow, you wish to chop 
and change your book, do it in manuscript — or, 
rather, do not do it at all. All works read better if 
left as they were written, straight from the heart ; 
what they gain in style they lose in force by over- 
correction. I feel very glad I happened to be at 
home this morning ; old Mr. Gerant would have gone 
out and hung himself if that terrible proof had been 
returned to the office ; and the compositors — well, 
perhaps the less we speculate concerning their action 
the better." 

Mr. Mallow looked ruefully at his lost labour ere he 
asked, — 

" Do you really think the book will be readable if 
left as it is ? " 

'' Assuredly. It might not have been readable if 
left as corrected by you. In fact, I do not believe any 
firm of printers could have been induced to set it 
up ! " 

" You know best, I suppose," said Mr. Mallow, 
in the tone of one who felt very doubtful on that 

" Know ? To be sure I do ! I ought, at any rate, 
after nearly twenty years' experience." 

" Why was not the manuscript sent with the 

Did He Deserve It? 131 

'' Oh, they never trouble about that now," 
answered Mr. Moucell, who had his own good reasons 
for not wishing the author to look again on what 
evidently was very dear to him. 

" Don't they ? " in a feeble sort of manner, as 
though all spirit were dying out of him. 

" No. It was a silly, useless practice. Did you wish 
yours returned ? " 

" I should like to have kept it," colouring a little. 

'* Hoping that in a few hundred years the original 
manuscript of ' The Offences of His Forefathers ' would 
be worth — we won't say how much ? " 

" No ; only for my own satisfaction. Besides, I 
should like to have seen if the printing were quite 
accurate. Some sentences struck me as not being 
exactly — " 

'' You may set your mind quite at rest about that. 
Printers make wonderful mistakes occasionally, but 
they have not yet set up as authors, or as assistants 
to authors. And now will you come down and have 
some luncheon? I have not had any breakfast yet, so 
thought we might take the two meals under one — " 

" How you burn the candle at both ends, Mr. 
MouceU ! " 

" Well, what am I to do ? The work had to be got 
in, and I could only accomplish that by sitting up." 

" Are you not afraid of injuring your health ? " 

" Do I look like a man whose health is being in- 
jured ? " 

" Well, no ; but still, if you remember, the 
pitcher went once too often to the well." 

*' Yes ; and if the pitcher had stayed at home it 
would have got broken all the same. Now let us 

K 2 

132 Did He Deserve It ? 

have something to eat. The days are short, and my 
young people want to take you to the Abbey." 

'* Is there not afternoon service there ? " 

"Yes, daily." 

" And can we stay for it ? " 

" Undoubtedly ; there is no just cause or impediment 
why you should not. And that reminds me, as you 
have done us the kindness to come here, will you do 
us the further favour of always saying what you 
would like best in all things ? Everyone in the house 
will be only too glad to fall in with your wishes." 

The words were heartily spoken, and touched Mr. 
Mallow deeply. No hospitality could have been more 
cordial, no welcome more genial. Thirty hours had 
not passed since he entered Mr. Moucell's home, yet 
already he felt one of the family. 

If for a moment that matter of the proof vexed him, 
he knew his host could not be accused of wilfully 
causing annoyance ; indeed, his common sense 
speedily told him Mr. Moucell's interference was 

Nevertheless, he thought lovingly of those despised 
corrections ! 


No man could make himself more agreeable than Mr. 
Moucell when he tried, and certainly no man ever did 
try to make himself more agreeable to the " coming 
author " than he, over their tete-a-tete luncheon. 

He had lived for so many years perforce outside the 
pressure of his own affairs that he could appear gay and 
cheerful even when racked with anxiety, and aware 
that he must have seemed a little peremptory con- 
cerning Mr. Mallow's proposed amendments, though 
not one whit more so than his secret relations with 
the Gerants necessitated, he put on " an extra spurt " 
in order to set affairs right. 

Well he knew that to a young author there is no 
subject so interesting as " shop," especially his own 
shop ; and therefore talk ran in the most natural 
way possible on " The Offences of His Forefathers," 
which Mr. Moucell had more than once, in a very 
access of exasperation, mentally termed that " con- 
founded book." 

It must be borne in mind that Messrs. Gerants' 
literary counsel was half-mad with worry, and 
consequently failed to look at many matters quite 

He had " pulled himself together " though before he 
suggested luncheon, and discoursed at that meal quite 

134 Did He Deserve It? 

pleasantly concerning Mr. Mallow's novel, which, from 
what " he had seen of it, he ventured to say ought to 
be a great success." 

Praise is ever sweet to an author, yet Mr. Mallow 
felt sceptical when Mr. Moucell honestly stated that 
from what he had seen of " The Offences of His Fore- 
fathers " he believed it would attract attention. 

How, the author thought, could anyone, galloping 
through a book, judge of its merits or demerits ? Ah ! 
how indeed — but he knew nothing of the many bad 
half hours Mr. Moucell had spent in turning that 
terrible Hibernian novel into English. 

To him had fallen the weary task. To hard workers 
such tasks invariably do fall. He had toiled over the 
book, he had anathematized it, and yet now across 
the luncheon-table he spoke charming words con- 
cerning it to the young man he wanted to use. 

He asked Mr. Mallow how he came to write it ; 
how he heard the tragedy in which he was told it 
ended. He was appreciative, sympathetic, encourag- 
ing at one and the same time. It seemed delightful 
to be able to talk freely to such an individual. Who 
was there he had not known, or met, or heard ? The 
buzz of great men's names was in Mr. Mallow's ears 
as he partook of soup and rejoiced over excellent 

The meal was as plain as a meal could be, but well 
cooked, well served, and the table daintily laid. 

More and more Mr. Mallow wondered at his new 
friend's menage ; but then, to be sure, it was English, 
which to an Irish person accounted for much — one 
wonders why. 

" When I was young," he said, in answer to ques- 

Did He Deserve It? 135 

tions, as though he were then a hundred years old, 
'' I spent a lot of time with relations who lived in the 
wilder parts of Ireland ; how wild those parts are no 
one on this side of the Channel can conceive. There 
and then I heard the story, which burnt itself into my 
heart. I talked with the descendants of those who 
laughed to scorn all the poor fellow's efforts — who 
hated him and derided what they called his ' foreign 
ways ' — who had no good or kind thought for him 
living, and danced over his grave when dead. It was 
all more real to me than my own life, and when I felt 
strong enough to write any long thing, I could not 
choose but write the true story of Fincarrow Castle. 
I can see the place now as I talk to you — see the Keep 
rising among desolate walls — see the lone, forsaken 
stables and courtyards — see the poor, desolate woman 
praying God to forgive those who had so persecuted 
her lover that his reason gave way and he took his 
own life. Ah ! Heaven — " And the remainder of 
Mr. Mallow's sentence seemed uttered to the bare 
branches swaying in The Lawn. 

" Yes," answered Mr. Moucell, diplomatically, " I 
heard of that scene, and was much impressed." 

" Part of my life is woven into the book," said Mr. 
Mallow, hoarsely. 

" As a rule, publishers have a holy horror of an 
author's favourite." 

*' I beg your pardon ; I do not understand." 

" Of a book that its author loves. Publishers are 
often wrong, however — more often wrong than right," 
added Mr. Moucell, as a cheerful afterthought. 

" But I am not in love with my novel now — not as 
it is ; I see faults innumerable. If they had only not 

136 Did He Deserve It? 

begun to print ! If I could but have the manuscript 
back again, what improvements I could make ! " 

Mr. Moucell laughed. "You may be thankful it 
has passed beyond your reach — you would be sure to 
spoil the whole thing." 

"You think it readable, then — pray, answer can- 
didly." The greediness of children for sweets is 
moderation when compared with the thirst of a young 
author for refreshing draughts of flattery ! 

" I consider the style excellent, and the matter, so 
far as the proof carried me, original and interesting. 
That is my honest opinion." 

" Thank you heartily ; you cannot imagine what 
success will mean to me." 

" To everyone it means the difference between 
success and failure ; but, in any event, I do not believe 
your novel will fall dead. Supposing now," after a 
moment's pause, " it should make a hit — I am, of course, 
only putting a hypothetical case — should you think of 
abandoning the Church " (" chucking up " was the 
phrase that first rose to Mr. Moucell's lips, but he 
altered it in time) " and devoting yourself to litera- 
ture ? " 

" Certainly not. Once a clergyman, always a 
clergyman. I took orders after much thought and due 
consideration, and would never even wish to undo 
what I have done. ' No man, having put his hand to 
the plough,' you remember." 

" Good heavens," thought Mr. Moucell, " does he 
imagine parsons are so scarce that one less or more 
can make any difference ? " 

Almost as though he guessed what was passing 
through his host's mind, the young Irishman went on : 

Did He Deserve It? 137 

" I know I am only a most humble servant among a 
great number ; but even the lowest can be of some use 
if he strive to do his work honestly ; and I trust, in 
my poor way, I try." 

" I quite see what you mean," answered Mr. 
Moucell, who considered the other was talking arrant 
folly. " I merely put the question because any advice 
I might be able to give you hereafter must be in- 
fluenced by your reply. There are no prizes in the 
Irish Church now, I presume ? " 

'' None, at all events, likely to come my way ; but 
it is not for loaves and fishes a man goes into the 

The only motive for going into any profession was, 
according to Mr. Moucell's ideas, those loaves and 
fishes of which his new friend spoke so disparagingly, 
but he did not say so. 

He was cautiously trying his ground, and had no 
intention of risking anything by premature argument. 
Stronger and better people than Mr. Mallow had by 
mere process of time, not to speak of temptation, 
changed their views, and no doubt the young curate 
would change his in good season ; meanwhile, he felt 
getting nearer and nearer to the real author of " The 
Offences of His Forefathers," to his '* Calvinism," 
his bigotry, his uncomfortable theology. 

Never mind ; other men, once as straitlaced, as 
narrow, as old-fashioned in their views, had, when 
brought into the strong light of worldly wisdom, seen 
the error of their ways, and there could be no reason 
why Desmond Gerald Mallow should prove harder to 
convert than they. 

" Has disestablishment done much harm ? " Mr. 

138 Did He Deserve It? 

Moucell asked, more to say something than because 
he cared in the least whether it had or not. 

" It was a blow, of course, but by no means the blow 
that was hoped and expected." 

" The Church goes on just the same as ever ? " 

" It would not be the Church if it failed to do so ; 
no matter how wild the tempest or rough the sea, 
Our Ship holds a steady course. It cannot founder, 
let bad and foolish men do what they will." 

" I suppose not." Mr. Moucell was so heartily sick 
of the whole subject, he would have conceded anything 
almost. " In the event of your rector dying or 
retiring," he went on — " his health is bad, I think I 
gathered — is there a likelihood that you would slip 
into his place ? " 

" No, and it is scarcely a preferment I should care 
to have offered. In my opinion, it is better for a man 
not to be rector where he has been curate. Eventu- 
ally, I may get a living near Dublin or some other 
large town. I should like a wider field, but I would 
take whatever presented itself, believing that there 
lay the work I was intended to perform." 

" Come," considered Mr. Moucell, relieved, " there 
may be good in the Finger of Fate, after all. If 
necessary, we can as easily persuade him it is beckon- 
ing to England as to Dublin." 

Having settled which question to his own satis- 
faction, he suggested, if Mr. Mallow wished to see the 
Abbey that afternoon, they would do well to make a 

" Phil can't get off to-day," he added, "so you will 
have to make shift with Edgar and Joscelyne, both 
of whom, however, know their Westminster pretty 

Did He Deserve It? 139 

thoroughly. I have tickets for the theatre for to- 
night. You don't object to plays, I hope ? " 

^' Not at all. I believe they may be made the means 
of effecting much good." 

*' Confound it all, are we never to get rid of the 
language of the Conventicle ? " said Mr. Moucell, quite 
in confidence to himself, as he took his hat and called 
out, — 

'' Now, youngsters, are you ready ? " hearing which 
trumpet-call, the youngsters, who had been ready for 
some time, at once put in an appearance, and, 
obedient to a gesture from their father, preceded him 
and Mr. Mallow to the gate, and turned their steps in 
the direction of Miles Street. 

If Joscelyne had looked a mere slip of a girl in the 
dining-room, she looked still less like a grown-up 
young lady out of doors. Her dress was short, her 
dark hair hung loose, her boots were stout, there was 
not even a spice of coquetry in the way she had put 
on her hat — a plain black straw, with a band of navy- 
blue ribbon. Just a nice, unaffected young girl, 
not yet come to where " the brook and river 
meet." "A very nice girl," thought Mr. Mallow, 
following her figure with approving eyes ; '' one who 
will be a very good-looking woman." Yes, and it was 
she who had almost broken her young heart over 
" The Offences of His Forefathers." But Mr. Mallow 
did not know that ! 


^' JoscELYNE ! " It was Mr. Moucell who spoke, as 
his advance gunrd neared the Wandsworth Road, at 
sound of which word of command " Jo " stopped obedi- 
ently, and turning with a pleasant smile, answered, 
" Yes, father," while she waited for him to come up. 

Certainly she made a very pretty picture ! 

" You had better only give Mr. Mallow a general 
idea of the Abbey this afternoon. In any case, you 
will not have time to see much before service, and 
Philip, I know, would like to be with him when going 
over Henry the Vllth's Chapel and other places of 
special interest." 

" Very well," agreed the girl. 

" Fact is," went on Mr. Moucell, addressing his 
companion, " Phil thinks he knows more about 
Westminster than anybody living. He is mistaken, 
of course, but I don't believe in snubbing young 

Mr. Mallow said, very truthfully, he did not believe 
in snubbing people, whether young or old. 

" Nor I, indeed, and that is the reason I let him act 
the part of showman when possible." 

" How many children have you, Mr. Moucell ? " 

" Seven besides the two you already know." 

Mr. Mallow bethought him that he knew a third, 
but held his peace while Mr. Moucell continued, — 

Did He Deserve It? 141 

" It is a large family, a very large family, but no 
parent was ever more blessed than I in his children. 
Excepting that the youngest has always been a little 
delicate, I have never had a moment's anxiety about 
one of them." 

Mr. Mallow said that must be very satisfactory, but 
wondered secretly whether Mr. MoucelPs opinion 
might not undergo a change if he heard the Apostle 
in full cry. 

It was quite a pleasant family party which em- 
barked at Nine Elms and went down the river to 
Westminster Pier, where Mr. Moucell saw his com- 
panions off the boat, and proceeded alone to the 

Hard by Westminster Hall, Edgar caught sight of a 
friend loafing on the other side of the road, which he 
felt it necessary to cross in order to exchange 
greetings. From that time his proceedings grew a 
little erratic : he was to be seen behind pillars deep in 
conversation, he would suddenly leave the sacred 
building for no explained reason, and as suddenly 
return, to make some unexpected, though not original, 
remark about this monument or that epitaph, ere 
once more disappearing. 

Matters culminated in a sharp and short encounter 
between his sister and himself. Mr. Mallow did not 
hear a word of the conversation, but by many signs 
and tokens he knew it referred to the dislike unre- 
generate boys entertain to " services," probably because 
they feel they are too bad to be benefited thereby. 
Anyhow, the smart skirmish ended in Edgar's 
apparent defeat, for he knelt with all the other 
sinners through both Confession and Absolution, 

142 Did He Deserve It ? 

When the congregation rose, however, he was gone. 
Like the Arab, he had silently stolen away, and his 
place knew him no more. Mr. Mallow felt quite in- 
terested. Really, there was a vast amount of human 
nature running loose about South Lambeth. 

No word, good or bad, did Joscelyne say concerning 
her brother's desertion. As a mere matter of polite- 
ness Mr. Mallow would have inquired concerning 
the youth, but he had already discovered a discreet 
silence was much esteemed in Mr. Moucell's establish- 

" Shall we walk home ? " asked the girl, when they 
emerged into the open air. 

''As you please," he answered. 

" There are both trams and 'buses," she said, simply ; 
" but I love walking along the Embankment at this 
hour, listening to the Thames lap-lapping against the 
stones as if it were a living thing." 

" Then let us walk, by all means." 

They paused half-way over Westminster Bridge to 
look both up and down the Thames — at the Houses of 
Parliament, brooding darkly beside the water ; at St. 
Thomas' ablaze with light, at the river flowing solemnly, 
silently onward to the far-off sea, "just like mortal life." 

A slight wind had arisen, which met them as they 
went down the steps leading to the Albert Embank- 
ment, and passed under the Hospital Terrace, where, 
in fine weather, convalescent patients sit sunning 

" Are you not afraid of catching cold, Miss 
Moucell ? " asked Mr. Mallow, when, having got 
beyond Lambeth Suspension Bridge, they reached the 
wider pavement where shelter ceases. 

Did He Deserve It ? 143 

" Oh, no ! " she laughed ; *' I am as hardy as a 
Shetland pony." 

They did not talk much ; the hour and the scene 
favoured meditation, and Mr. Mallow, who had been 
deeply impressed by the Abbey and the service, felt glad 
his companion was able to dispense with conversation. 
There are times when speech jars, when the sound of 
a human voice, let it be sweet as it may, strikes pain- 
fully like a discord. No discord, however, marred on 
that evening the strange music made by the water 
rippling in its eternal unrest, sobbing now and then 
as if in pain, fretting because of the gigantic barriers 
raised against its freedom, just as man laments the 
limitations of his own free will. Joscelyne said never 
a word. All her young life she had lived among those 
who either from absolute incapacity did not under- 
stand her, or were too busy to try to do so, and 
thus she learnt early to hold her tongue. 

In winter, about that hour, the Albert Embank- 
ment is often almost deserted, and as the young curate 
and Mr. Moucell's daughter walked along, the trouble 
of the water could be distinctly heard. 

To a man who had trodden mountain fastnesses, and 
kept vigil beside lonely lakes, and knew the sorrow- 
ful moan of the sea sweeping over a desolate shore, 
there seemed something so weird about this lament, 
heard in the heart of a great city, that it aifected him 
like the bitter cry of humanity, which, being confined 
to no creed, nation, or language, is universal. 

It appeared a fitting accompaniment to the story 
of the Abbey, borne down the stream of time from the 
period that Westminster was built on a then wild 
island, which an old writer called '' terrible " overrun 

144 Did He Deserve It? 

with thorns, separated from the Middlesex side by a 
small branch of the Thames, styled, no doubt appro- 
priately, "The Long Ditch " ; for through the centuries, 
through increasing civilization, through weal and woe, 
the sorrow of the sea, the fret of water, has never 
ceased its plaint. 

Vaguely the young clergyman was beginning to 
understand the meaning of that strange moan which 
had been sounding in his ears ever since he set foot in 

As Mr. Moucell would have put the matter : " One 
person cannot make a procession ; the grief, however 
bitter, of a single man or woman amounts to little ; 
but multiply that unit by tens and hundreds of 
thousands, and you become aware of a sorrow and 
hear a shout that shall yet lay low the walls of some 
modern Jericho." 

Yes, perhaps even here ; but however that might 
be, through all the grief, and all the cries, one Eternal 
Truth, which Mr. Mallow had seen that day typified 
in enduring stone, remained to comfort those who 
mourned, those who wept ! 

Only vaguely could he formulate the ideas West- 
minster had suggested to him. 

Everything seemed so vast, strange, unreal, that it 
was small wonder he felt grateful for a few minutes' 
mental pause, for breathing-time in which to think 
things over. 

It was not until they left High Street, Lambeth, 
and Vauxhall Cross behind, and were proceeding down 
South Lambeth Road, Joscelyne spoke, which she 
would not have done even then, but that her heart was 
hungering and thirsting for some word of sympathy. 

Did He Deserve It? 145 

" Are you glad we walked home, Mr. Mallow ? " 

This was the apparently simple question she asked 
though it filled her whole soul. 

'^ Indeed I am ! An omnibus or tram would have 
broken the spell." 

"That is just what I feel after service at the Abbey." 

" How very strange ! " exclaimed her companion. 

He did not think it necessary to say why he thought 
her remark strange, and she of course did not like to 
inquire ; but it was because of one of those notions which 
dominate and must always separate Irish people from 
their Saxon kindred, till the former learn men and 
women are the same in England as across St. George's 

Considering his age, Mr. Mallow knew many 
things, but he did not know that, and thought it must 
only be through some " freak " the young London 
girl could feel with Desmond Gerald Mallow, of Kil- 
brannon, on a single point ! 

And yet he himself was already at one with the 
family domiciled in South Lambeth Road. 

When will those never intended by God to be 
separated learn to understand each other ? Not till 
the millennium, one is sometimes tempted to think. 

'' Westminster did not disappoint you ? " Joscelyne 
added, softly, when her companion's hand was on her 
father's gate. 

" Disappoint me ! " he repeated. " I would have 
travelled ten times the distance, had my means per- 
mitted, to see what I have seen to-day." 

" I am so pleased," she said, " for I love the Abbey," 
and they walked without further speech up to the 
hall door, which she opened with a latch-key. 


146 Did Hk Deserve It? 

Once inside, they were greeted by a perfect clamour 
of tongues. If there were one thing more certain than 
another, it was that the master of the house was absent, 
and that the young fry knew the fact. 

Children rushed upon them by scores, as it seemed 
to Mr. Mallow, and yet there were but five, all told. 
Nevertheless, history has proved five may be equal 
to fifty, or five hundred, for that matter. 

All and severally, they were introduced to Mr. 
Mallow, whom Mr. Moucell had intended to 
become acquainted with his progeny by degrees — as, 
indeed, he had himself. 

Guy, Francis, Randal, Cecil, and '' dear little Beaty " 
hurled themselves with the fullest conviction of 
welcome upon the unfortunate visitor's notice ere 
he could cross the hall, into which they swarmed from 
all sorts of unexpected places. 

" You may as well get the whole thing over at once," 
said Joscelyne, in accents of despair ; " we are so 
man}^, but I am thankful to say we are no more." 

Mr. Mallow did what was necessary under the cir- 
cumstances. With a fair amount of success, he had 
interviewed five children, and made some pretty little 
remarks to each, when, from the first landing, there 
came a shrill, — 

'' So you are back at last, you young cat," the cat 

being prefaced by a wonderfully effective and, to the 
clergyman, quite new adjective. 

"If you are strong, be merciful, my dear boy," he 
exclaimed. " Pray remember we are not accustomed 
to hear such vigorous language." 

" 'Tisn't 'gorous language," was the prompt reply. 

" She is a nasty young cat, going out and amusing 

herself, and leaving me behind." 

Did He Deserve It ? 147 

'^ Dear, dear, were there ever such naughty 
children ! " exclaimed Mrs. Howley, who at that 
moment made her appearance on the scene, looking 
as if she had been just aroused from slumber — which, 
indeed, was the case. ^' One can't leave you for a 
moment but you get into some mischief. Run off 
this moment, or I will tell your father. Paul, if you 
don't go downstairs at once you sha'n't have a morsel 
of the beautiful cake Mary made this afternoon." 

Whereupon a change came over the Apostle, who 
was greedy as profane, and he descended, though very 
slowly, into the basement. 

L 2 


;*My eldest son.'' 

No words could describe the proud self-satisfaction 
with which Mr. Moucell made this statement when he 
introduced yet another of his offspring to Mr. Mallow, 
blissfully ignorant that gentleman was now acquainted 
with the whole family. 

Philip, an extremely good-looking youth, was to be 
one of the theatre party, and felt that neither the 
Titrns nor any other critic would be so able as he to 
pronounce a verdict on the play. 

Not about Westminster alone did he know more 
than anyone else. He would have walked boldly 
in anywhere, and delivered his opinion without the 
slightest hesitation. It was all very well to talk 
concerning angels fearing to tread, but angels were a 
stationary order of creation, not, like man, progressive. 
Things had gone on a long way since they first began 
to sing, and if human beings did not step in wherever 
and whenever they could, they would be soon left far in 
the rear. Those were Mr. Philip Moucell's sentiments, 
which he was in the habit of expressing quite freely. 

His strength lay in opposition ; that is the direction 
in which a vast amount of modern strength does lie. 
He would have argued against his own convictions 
rather than not argue at all. To Mr. Mallow his 

Did He Deserve It ? 149 

manner could only be described as politely conde- 
scending. He had views concerning Ireland, as, 
indeed, he had concerning many other matters, and 
felt sure little really good could come out of that 
country. It, like the angels, was not progressive. 
It had been beaten in all the world's great races. Its 
population was scarcely larger than that of London. 
Its accent could but be accounted appalling. There 
were families doomed to extinction, there were nation- 
alities destined to decay. He could not exactly fore- 
cast the people who would in after-centuries reign over 
Erin, but that a people would land on her shores, and 
bring civilization with them, he felt no doubt. 

Before Mr. Mallow's visit ended he spoke of him 
kindly as a " good fellow," and in after years was glad 
often to mention the fact that he had spent some 
time with them ; but on the first night they met he 
did not feel inclined to commit himself, and held the 
clergyman, whom he " could scarcely call a clergy- 
man," rather at arm's length. 

For the rest, he was somewhat languid both in 
speech and movement, having an idea that " true 
blue blood " always appears indolent till some 
necessity for exertion arises, when *' breed tells." 

" You see the same thing in thoroughbred horses," 
he was wont to remark, he who, likely, had never 
been close to such an animal in his life '' They seem 
half asleep till the supreme moment arrives, when 
they show what they can do." 

On the whole, he greatly amused Mr. Mallow, who 
wondered how he managed to live in the same house 
with Paul and yet refrani from doing that erratic 
voung Moucell an injury, till he bethought him 

ISO Did He Deserve It? 

perhaps some of those Norman ancestors PhiUp was 
so fond of mentioning might have sworn even more 
terribly than the Apostle, which, of course, would 
account for and excuse all peculiarities of expression. 

In this Mr. Mallow was mistaken, however, Paul's 
oaths being so unmistakably low and modern that 
even a Norman bowman would have been ashamed of 
them. Therefore, Philip felt his shining young brother 
to be a disgrace, and refused to go to church with 
him, which, as Mrs. Howley truly said, "was not 

There is so much, however, which is not Christian 
in most families that Philip's action might well be 

Mr. Moucell having tickets only for four, the theatre 
party comprised Joscelyne, Philip, and the two elder 

In her simple evening dress " Jo " looked charming 
— girlish, sweet, and innocent. She sat between her 
father and Philip, and Mr. Mallow noticed how all the 
pathetic parts of the play seemed to touch her, while 
at the same time she thoroughly appreciated every- 
thing humorous. 

" Avery nice girl," he told himself for the twentieth 
time — " frank, modest, pleasant." Ah ! yes, poor Jo 
was all that, and more — the making of a noble, loving 

It was a pretty, bright piece, and everyone except 
Philip seemed to enjoy it very much. 

Mr. Mallow did thoroughly, although— and it was 
a strange thing — whenever a pause or break occurred, 
the Abbey arches and flying buttresses and discoloured 
monuments rose before his eyes, while the ceaseless 
plaint of water never really left his ears. 

Did He Deserve It? 151 

In the theatre, as everywhere else, Mr. Moucell was 
an excellent companion, alert and ready as if a 
bachelor instead of the father of so large a family, as if 
without a care in the world ; and yet once, when 
directing Mr. Mallow's attention to something on the 
other side of the house, his eyes seemed arrested on 
their way back ; he stopped in the middle of a 
sentence, and did not finish it for a second. 

The whole thing was over in an instant, but Mr. 
Mallow had time to follow his fascinated gaze, which 
was fixed on a dark, heavy-looking man seated beside 
a richly-dressed lady ; that they knew each other, 
and unpleasantly, was impossible to doubt ; yet even 
while this idea was flashing through the clergyman's 
mind Mr. Moucell regained his composure, and com- 
pleted what he had been about to say. 

When the performance was over, they passed on 
their way out the same gentleman and lady, the 
former of whom nodded to Mr. Moucell, not familiarly. 
His face struck Mr. Mallow as disagreeable, and his 
smile was so cynical it might have made a wicked 
person long to strike him. 

Mr. Moucell returned the salutation coldly. 

The lady and gentleman were waiting for their 
carriage. Mr. Moucell's party, intending to proceed 
home by the convenient, if humble, omnibus, went 
out into the night, and arrived in due time at Vaux- 
hall Cross. 

Ever hospitable, Mr. Moucell pressed his guest to 
have wine, or something stronger, but Mr. Mallow 

" Not even a smoke? " persisted the host. 

" Not even a smoke, thank you," and they 

152 Did He Deserve It? 

Left alone, Mr. Moucell had no wine or " anything 
stronger," neither did he solace himself with a smoke. 
Instead, he walked into his study, looked at the 
evening's letters, and finding nothing which necessi- 
tated another vigil, went to bed. 

There he did not go to sleep for hours. It was a 
rare thing for him to lie awake, no matter what his 
anxieties might be, but his anxiety that night was 
very pressing. He did not know where to find fifty 
pounds within a week. 

*' It is never what we expect that troubles us so 
much ; it is what we do not expect," said an individual 
who got out of one difficulty in his own experience by 
opportunely dying, to the present writer, and Mr. 
Moucell could have endorsed that statement as 
absolutely true. 

It is the unexpected that knocks over those who 
have fought fortune bravely and long. 

It was the unexpected which threatened to crush 

The blow had fallen quite a month before, but he 
did not realize the fact. 

In that paper Mr. Isaac Gerant so much admired 
there occurred a passage extolling " the good old- 
fashioned shopkeeper, who considered having money 
on his books almost as good as having it in the bank," 
and stating that such a man prospered much better 
than his neighbour, who sold for cash at a mere margin 
of profit, and, after winning no one's good word, not 
even that of the wholesale houses, usually ended by 
being sold up at the expiration of one, two, or three 
years. He contrasted the cold mechanism of modern 
stores with the homely friendliness of him who, 

Did He Deserve It? 153 

being personally acquainted with all his customers, 
could afford, and felt willing, to wait their time for 

In the article, " cash " was represented as a dead 
failure. But circumstances alter cases, and the want 
of cash was producing a disastrous effect on poor Mr. 
Moucell, who had dealt for years with a shopkeeper, 
" less tradesman than saint," who took his customers' 
orders as readily as he did payment on account. 

With this individual also the unexpected, which is 
always happening, occurred. He did not fail, but he 
died, and within a very short period the solicitors 
acting for his executors were on the war-path collect- 
ing his assets. 

He had been liberal all his days, to himself and his 
family as well as to his customers ; for which reason 
the "estate" did not promise to prove very valuable, 
wherefore it seemed desirable to scrape in all the 
money outstanding rapidly. Messrs. Gabriel, Michael, 
and Co. were just the men to let no grass grow under 
their feet. They entertained exalted ideas of a 
solicitor's standing, and believed the first duty — 
indeed, the only duty — of any legal firm was to look 
after their clients' interests and their own. A pound 
of flesh they asked from all the debtors, with six-and- 
eightpence in addition, and a pound of ^eshp/us six- 
and-eightpence they were determined to have, or they 
would know the reason why. 

At first Mr. Moucell treated their letters as mere 
matters of form, but when he found the applications 
grew more peremptory, and the six and eightpences 
totted up, he went and interviewed the gentleman 
who had the conduct of matters. 

154 Did He Deserve It? 

Though a member of the firm, he was not what Mr. 
Moucell, with a ghastly sort of humour, called one of 
the heavenly host ; instead, a Mr. Shusan, who knew 
what he was about as well as any man in London. 

He laughed to scorn the idea of accepting the debt 
(and costs) by instalments. He pointed out that for 
many years Mr. Moucell had by means of slight 
payments been practically carrying the account over. 
He said the executors insisted on the estate being 
closed ; that the matter having been placed in their 
(Messrs. Gabriel, Michael, and Co.'s) hands, they were 
bound either to collect the money or return the 
amount as a bad debt ; that he had ever found delay 
on such occasions meant ultimate loss, and that, in 
short, unless Mr. Moucell paid them before a certain 
(very short) date the sum of ninety-two pounds 
thirteen and fivepence halfpenny, together with 
the costs which had accrued, they must issue a 

Now, imagine what this must have been to a man 
only just paying his way, with a visitor coming, and 
Christmas, with its bills, its boxes, its never-ending 
expenses, looming in the near future ! 

After well-nigh superhuman efforts, the debtor 
managed to scrape together forty pounds, which he 
would have offered as a sort of oblation on the legal 
shrine, but that Messrs. Gabriel, Michael, and Co., 
refused it utterly. They knew more about Mr. 
Moucell than he did himself, and were aware, if they 
only applied sufficient torture, he would somehow, 
so remarked the managing clerk, '' stump up." 
Therefore they said : " The whole amount and costs, 
or a writ." 

Did He Deserve It? 155 

Never in his life had Mr. Moucell been in the habit 
of using bad language, but the language he thought, 
after leaving the angelic host, might have surprised 
even the Prince of Darkness. 

He could not find the money, so a writ was served 
on the morning of the day when Mr. Shusan, with 
his gorgeously-attired wife, went to see that pretty 
piece which was just then the talk of the town. 


On the next morning, which was somewhat stormy, 
Mr. Mallow continued his studies of Westminster 
Abbey, this time with Philip Moucell as instructor. 

The amount of useless information that young 
gentleman was good enough to impart seemed 
wonderful to the coming author, who was ungrateful 
enough to feel he would have enjoyed his meditations 
among the Abbey tombs much more had Philip and 
his sister been absent. 

Already the fact was dawning upon his understanding 
that a man's most genial guide through London is 
himself, and that the best way to enjoy sightseeing is 
to drop on the sights by chance. 

From Westmmster they proceeded, well-nigh in 
total darkness, by the so-called " Daylight Route " to 
the City, where they had a " snap-glance " at the 
Monument, Royal Exchange, Bank of England, 
Mansion House, Guildhall, General Post Office, 
Christ's Hospital, and Newgate, when Philip intimated 
that as the day was far spent it would be necessary to 
defer any detailed inspection of St. Paul's to some 
future period. 

" We can turn in for afternoon service now, 
however," he kindly added ; " they do it rather 

Did He Deserve It? 157 

This lordly commendation struck Mr. Mallow as 
odd, but his brain was reeling, and he felt just then 
more anxious to turn in anywhere out of the hurly- 
burly than to engage in argument concerning the 
proprieties of language. 

Palaces, bridges, churches, shops, piers, statues, 
prisons, seemed chasing each other like living things 
through his tired head at top speed. 

London certainly was a wonderful place, but a little 
of it went a long way — with him, at all events. 

He had come into it less than sixty hours previously 
strong, hale, and hearty, and already he felt quite an 
old man, willing to sit down and rest, or drop off to 
sleep at a moment's notice — a truly awful experience 
the like of which he had never passed through 

And yet, once out of the noise of ever and ever and 
ever-passing feet, and the racket of never-ceasing 
traffic, which surged and sobbed round St. Paul's just 
as the Thames had lapped and fretted against the 
xA.lbert Embankment, he enjoyed the service immensely 
— all the more, perhaps, because a very Babel of sound 
had preceded that ser\'ice. 

Once again, however, he felt that one of his com- 
panions struck a discordant note, for the sight of 
Philip listening with an expression of satirical amuse- 
ment to clergyman, organist, and choir, disturbed him 
to an extent of which he felt ashamed. 

'* God forgive me," was the prayer, not to be found 
in any appointed service, which involuntarily he 
offered up, and which doubtless found merciful 
acceptance. " How do I know what is in the lad's 
heart ? ' 

158 Did He Deserve It? 

Ay, how indeed ! 

Whatever might have been in Mr. PhiUp Moucell's 
heart, it is quite certain there was only on his tongue 
while they walked to Blackfriars Station the curse of 
Modern Criticism, which would say if it dared, and in 
effect does say, that the sun gives no heat by day or 
the moon light by night, which tries to take all 
beauty and pleasure and zest out of life, and substitutes 
its own poor " no good in anything " doctrine in lieu 
of all old beliefs. 

"Really, Phil, you are hateful ! " isaid his sister at 
last. " I thought the whole service lovely." 

" Oh, I daresay it might seem so to a girl." 

" May I venture to observe that it seemed beautiful 
to me ? " said Mr. Mallow ; " but then, no doubt, I am 
as uninstructed in such matters as your sister." 

'" Not at all," rephed Philip, quite unabashed ; " but 
you are new to London, and have not yet been to 
the Temple," which rebuke the curate accepted meekly, 
and wished he had not spoken, feeling the latter-day 
knowledge of young people exceeds the best wisdom 
of their elders. 

" I am afraid you are sadly tired ? " It was Joscelyne 
who made this remark, as they walked over West- 
minster Bridge. 

" Only pleasantly," was Mr. Mallow's mendacious 
reply. He knew he was telling a fib, but the old 
Adam was so rampant within him he could not 
confess he felt fit to drop in Mr. Philip Moucell's 

That evening they took tram home ; any high 
thoughts in which they may have indulged had been 
routed utterly before they reached Westminster, and 

Did He Deserve It? 159 

no thoughts were left, anyone could have deemed it 
desirable to encourage. 

For utterly commonplace mortals, filled with every- 
day ideas, a tram was obviously the proper mode of 
locomotion — such, at least, was Mr. Mallow's idea, as he 
took his seat inside, while young Moucell climbed to 
the roof with the manner of one who believed he did 
everything better than anybody else. 

Possibly this was only the result of '' Norman 
blood " ; after all, a '' man's ancestors" did not come 
over with the Conqueror for nothing. 

On the wanderers' return they were enthusiastic- 
ally greeted by five young people, who, having been 
sedulously engaged in " keeping the dining-room fire 
warm," rushed into the hall and well-nigh over- 
whelmed Mr. Mallow with the exuberance of their 
welcome. From the first floor came the sound of 
" The Rakes of Mallow," joyfully thumped on the 
piano by someone evidently meaning the air as a 
sort of " See the Conquering Hero Comes " compli- 
ment for their guest. 

" Come, clear off," said the male representative of 
many defunct Moucells, while there came a plaintive 

" Dear, dear, dear, where is aunt ? " from the female 
branch of that great family. 

'' Aunty's gone out," explained one of the younger 
fry, who was embracing Mr. Mallow's knees, '' and we've 
had our teas, and comed up here so that we might 
know when you got home." 

" Then you will kindly go downstairs again at once," 
said Joscelyne, with well-feigned severity. 

" Might the little ones not remain for a while ? " 

i6o Did He Deserve It? 

interposed Mr. Mallow, dreading a tete-a-tett with 
Philip. " I love children." 

Which, indeed, he did, also young men and maidens, 
also the middle-aged and grey-headed. 

There was nothing the good God had made but 
seemed in some way beautiful and interesting to this 
Irish curate, save the curious modern cynic, who sits 
in judgment on and finds fault with all the Creator's* 

'' I am afraid they will worry you sadly," Joscelyne 

'' Quite the contrary ; as I said just now, I love 

'' Will you be very good if I let you stay ? " asked 
Joscelyne, in answer to which question the juvenile 
Moucells folded their small hands, as if in prayer, and 
declared with one accord, — 

"We will." 

Meanwhile, " The Rakes of Mallow " was in mad 
progress overhead. To much shrill laughter and a 
joyous tin-kettle sort of accompaniment, the merry 
measure held on its wild career. 

" Oh ! I must stop that," cried Joscelyne, impul- 
sively, only just realizing what the lively strain was, 
and she rushed upstairs to interrupt the flow of Guy's 
charming melody. 

" Who were ' The Rakes of Mallow,' Mr. Mallow?" 
asked Edgar, only, of course, desirous to " know all. 
about it." 

" No relations of mine, I assure you," was the 
laughing reply. 

" But what were they ? " 

" A very rackety lot, I should imagine." 

Did He Deserve It? i6i 

''That statement," observed Philip sententiously, 
" does not add much to our stock of information. I 
have long greatly wished to know what a ' rake ' 
was in the old days besides an agricultural im- 

" My dear boy," answered Mr. Mallow — which phrase 
Philip secretly resented, because no man under forty 
likes to be called a '' dear boy," and then only by some- 
one he considers his superior — '' my dear boy, if you 
look in any dictionary you will find one definition of 
' rake,' which, I think, ought to be sufficient for you. 
' The Rakes of Mallow,' however, I should imagine to 
have been a foolish set of young fellows, as silly, but 
by no means so wicked, as the Mohawks, who were 
long ago the curse of London." 

Which was " one between the eyes " for Mr. Philip 
Moucell, who, spite of his craze for arguing, had sense 
enough to recognize and respect a capable adversary 
when he met him. 

'' Yes, I had not thought of that," he answered, 
after just a second's pause. " Probably you are quite 
right," after which admission exit Mr. Philip Moucell, 
who said " he had work to do," likewise Master Edgar 
of the same ilk. 

On their way through the hall they met Joscelyne, 
Guy the pianist, and Paul, who had accompanied with 
a poker on the coal-scuttle that joyous " Rakes of 
Mallow," the latter young gentleman being in the best 
of good tempers. 

" Now, then," said their sister, addressing her 
elder brothers, '* are you going to stay quietly down- 
stairs without quarrelling ? " 
'' We are," was the answer, 


i62 Did He Deserve It ? 

" That will be a mercy," Joscelyne returned, a reply 
proving the home life of South Lambeth Road was 
not always so calm as Mr. Mallow in his ignorance had 

While the curate was having his tea a suspicious 
silence reigned, broken only once by the Apostle, who, 
making a frightful grimace when he heard his new 
friend did not take sugar, caused a titter. 

Mr. Mallow looked somewhat surprised, till 
Joscelyne explained the source of amusement by say- 
ing, "If everyone had as sweet a tooth as you, 
Paul, there would not be enough to go round." 

If for a too brief period, however, an unnatural 
quiet prevailed, it was more than counterbalanced by 
the pandemonium which succeeded to that short calm. 
No games of any sort were attempted. The tiny 
Moucells' idea of enjoyment was simply to make a rush 
at the too-confiding stranger, hurling themselves upon 
him from all corners of the room, and shrieking with 
delight when he caught one up in his arms and 
made believe very much that he meant to keep him 
prisoner. Looking at the bright fire, hearing the shouts 
of merry laughter, seeing the happy faces on which the 
gaslight shone, no one would ever have imagined that 
over that home hung suspended a sword of Damocles, 
which might, and very surely would, fall any day 
after Mr. Moucell failed in answering Queen 
Victoria's pressing invitation to meet the legal 
luminary appointed as her representative. 

No one would have thought it ; yet Mrs. Howley 
was even then out trying whether no effort of hers 
could avert such a catastrophe, and Mr. Moucell had 
since morning been knocking around from post to 

Did He Deserve It? 163 

pillar in the hope that " something would turn up," 
that, in plain words, a fresh miracle would be wrought 
in his favour. 

And still in blissful ignorance the children played 
on, yelling, shouting, madly uproarious, and Mr. 
Mallow played with them, happy as a boy himself, 
and delighted at being able to give the little people 

The fun was at its height, the merry youngsters 
were in a full tide of enjoyment, when Joscelyne, 
who had been absent for some time, opened the door 
and said, " Children \ father I " 

Though not a long sentence, it proved sufficient. 

In an instant Mr. Mallow found himself alone. 
Without a word, almost without a sound, his small 
companions slunk away, vanishing as swiftly and 
silently as did the unholy crew assembled in AUoway 
Kirk when Tam O'Shanter pronounced his famous 
eulogium on Cutt}' Sark. 

M 2 


The surprised guest had barely time to smooth his 
own ruffled plumage, when a sound of footsteps was 
heard coming up the walk, followed by the slight 
noise of a latch-key turning gently in the lock. 
All Mr. Moucell's movements were quiet. 

Immediately it crossed Mr. Mallow's mind 
Joscelyne had been listening for the opening of the 
outer gate, ere rushing like a scout to give warning 
of approaching danger. This, then, was how that 
strange stillness which had at first so greatly 
puzzled him, was secured. It seemed a long price to 
pay, but he had not time to think the matter out, for 
Mr. Moucell, after .only a brief pause in the hall, 
entered and bade him " Good morning," as if there 
were some excellent joke in this form of greeting 
hidden away from common understanding. 

Mr. Mallow accepted the "chaff" as in- 
tended, and observed, apologetically, that if he 
lived in London he would seldom rise with the 

" Of my own free will I never should, no matter 
where I lived," returned Mr. Moucell, with conviction. 
" Well, and how have you been getting on to-day? " 

" Capitally, thank you. I feel I am growing in 
knowledge and wisdom hourly." 

Did He Deserve It? 165 

" And what about proof? " 

" I had totally forgotten it ! " exclaimed Mr. Mallow, 
in accents of 'unfeigned regret, ''but," brightening up, 
" that does not much matter ; I can correct the sheets 

" Quite impossible, if we are to get to Bedford 
Square by eight," said Mr. Moucell " Why, you look 
bewildered ! Had you also forgotten to remember — 
the lovely phrase is your own — that Mrs. Alston 
and her brother expect to see us in about an 
hour ? " 

*' I had indeed ; forgive me. And we really must 
turn out again ? " 

" Well, yes ; having promised to go, I think we 
ought to keep faith. It is not like an ' At Home,' 
where the absence of one or two, or twenty, for that 
matter, would seem of small consequence. A gap at 
a dinner-table is a different affair." 

" Of course it is, and I beg your pardon. My head 
has got a little addled with sight-seeing, but I will try 
to brush some sense into it. I really feel extremely 
sorry to have been so stupid. I shall be ready in ten 
minutes," and he hurried off to dress. 

" There goes a thoroughly good fellow, or I am much 
mistaken," thought Mr. Moucell, out of the fulness of 
his better self. His worse was perfectly conscious that 
some gulf yawned between him and this clever, easily- 
tired, over-conscientious Irish parson — a gulf which 
time would widen instead of narrow — but he did not 
care to inquire too curiously what that gulf might be ; 
rather, with a very heavy heart, he crossed to his 
room, from which he very shortly reappeared, looking, 
as Joscelyne said, " quite smart." 

i66 Did He Deserve It? 

"A bonnie bride is soon buskit," she went on. 
" Father, you are handsome ! " 

It would have been impossible for any man not to 
feel pleased with so spontaneous a tribute to his 
personal attractions, and Mr. Moucell's face expressed 
gratification, though he answered, reproachfully,— 

'' I know of old my girl is a sad flatterer." 

" And I know your girl loves her dad ; better than 
anybody in the wide world." Was it the shadow 
of a coming event that made her add that last 
clause ? 

" Yes, my dear, I am sure you do now ; but when 
Mr. Right comes this way, how will it be ? " 

** Neither Mr. Right nor Mr. Wrong, nor Mr. 
Anybody Else will ever separate me from my father," 
returned Joscelyne, putting her arms round his neck, 
and her fresh young lips up to his ; lips that since 
early childhood had never kissed a man not related to 
her, and that never, never, never kissed the one man 
she really loved. 

" My darling ! " and Mr. Moucell pressed his 
daughter to his heart. Nature for a moment had its 
way, and he felt she was indeed the blessing he often 
averred ; then, other considerations presenting them- 
selves, he said, — 

" By-the-bye, Joscelyne, I think we are rather over- 
doing Mr. Mallow with London." 

" I am sure we are," returned the girl ; " the merci- 
less distances Phil dragged him to-day were enough 
to kill anybody." 

" I told Philip our guest had only a fortnight, or at 
most three weeks, in which to see everything, there- 
fore he was endeavouring to do as much as possible j 

Dtd He Deserve It ? 167 

but I see Mr. Mallow is not so strong as I supposed, 
and that we must go more slowly. It amazes me to 
find any man knock up as he does." 

'' He says it is the noise here which tries 

" His nerves must be very weak, then. However, 
they shall not be overtaxed while he is with us if I 
can help it, for good people are not too numerous, and 
it strikes me he is very good." 

'' Indeed, indeed, he is as good as his book ; how I 
wish it were out, that I could talk to him about it I " 
she exclaimed, quickly guessing the reason why her 
father's brow clouded. " But perhaps he may come to 
us again in the spring ? " 

" If we are not sold up in the meantime," was the 
thought which swept through Mr. Moucell's mind, but 
he only answered, — 

'' It is quite likely he may ; he has another book 
on the stocks. What I wish to say now, how- 
ever, is that I put him entirely under your care for 
the future. Find out what he wants most to see, and 
let him see it in the easiest way possible, you under- 
stand. Now, next Sunday, for instance ? " 

'' Oh, Phil has settled that— the Temple." 

" Then I will take Mr. Mallow there myself," de- 
clared Mr. Moucell, adding mentally, '* What a 
nuisance ! " for he loved to have one day in the week 
free. " I shall have a talk with your brother, and ex- 
plain matters to him. Meanwhile, the best thing I 
can do, as it seems to me, is sketch out a little pro- 
gramme, and leave my wise daughter to fill in the 
details. You are in sympathy with the budding author, 
therefore will be careful not to overtax his strength," 

i68 Did He Deserve It ? 

and he caressingly touched the girl's cheek, which for 
some reason flamed red. 

" There he is," she said, hurriedly. " I will re- 
member, father." 

At that moment, as if he had really brushed a lot of 
cobwebs off his brain, Mr. Mallow came running down- 
stairs, eager and active as a boy, exclaiming, — 

" You must have thought me very long, but I could 
not find my ties. It was the hunt for them that kept 

" We are in excellent time," was the answer, and 
then Joscelyne heard the door bang behind them. 

Poor girl, she sat down in her own domain, feeling 
very happy, strangely happy. 

Luckily, she did not know in the least that she 
loved the man. All she did know was that, like the 
vague, faint perfume of early spring after a long 
winter, his presence made life more pleasant to her. 

On the way to Bloomsbury Square Mr. Moucell 
tried to make Mr. Mallow acquainted with the position 
of his friends who dwelt there. 

" We always speak as if the parties were given by 
Mrs. Alston, but more correctly it is she and her 
brother, who entertain a good deal. Mr. Blackshaw 
is a very worthy gentleman who returned from India 
with ample means, but, unfortunately, with no liver, 
which fact depresses him greatly. Mrs. Alston finds 
all the sweetness and light." 

" And Mr. Blackshaw the money ? " suggested Mr. 

*'To a great extent," agreed Mr. Moucell, who 
thought it unnecessary to state that the widow was 
well dowered. 

Did He Deserve It ? 169 

The Bedford Square house was quite as large as that 
inhabited by Mr. CHfford Jones, and the butler as 
well up to his business. He would have done credit 
to a Guildhall banquet ; indeed, it was from some such 
stronghold of unimpeachable respectability that he 
had been enticed to take service with a City man, 
Mr. Blackshaw's father. 

Simmons was the unworthy name which apper- 
tained to a worthy individual, who regarded with 
evident pity his master, compelled by circumstances 
to drink strange waters instead of generous wine, 
and whose heart therefore could never be made glad. 

Mr. Blackshaw was indeed a most unhappy 
gentleman, but he liked to see friends around him 
and enjoying themselves. 

The guests were admirably selected, diverse, as 
can be well imagined, but agreeable and interesting 

Weary though he was, Mr. Mallow felt he had 
never been at a pleasanter party. Everyone talked 
naturally and easily, all seemed to have something to 
say worth hearing, good stories were told, laughter 
rang out freely, and when afterwards, in the drawing- 
room, a well-known artiste discoursed sweet music, 
the curate's cup of innocent happiness almost over- 
flowed, for he loved music. Ah ! what did that simple, 
honest heart not love which was pure and holy and 
of good repute ? 

He talked to the vocalist about her ballad, sung as 
only she could sing it, and afterwards Mrs. Alston 
found an opportunity of saying a few friendly words to 
him, that made his pulses throb a little quicker, for 
she spoke of success as of a thing assured. 

170 Did He Deserve It? 

" I shall send to Mudie's the moment your book 
is advertised, and read it with greater interest now 
that I have seen the author." 

The words might have meant nothing, of course, 
but something in her kind face and earnest voice 
appeared to mean a great deal, and sent Mr. Mallow 
away feeling almost triumphant. 

By reason of Mr. Blackshaw lacking that organ so 
necessary to everyone's well-being, the party broke 
up about eleven, and a few minutes later Mr. Moucell 
and his proteg^ were quietly walking past the British 

" I wish I had a guinea for every hour T have spent 
in the library there," said the literary man. " I could 
live at ease for ever after." 

" How hard you must have worked ! " observed Mr. 
Mallow, sympathetically. 

" Yes, a man situated as I am does not eat the bread 
of idleness. What is the use of complaining, though ? 
— it is all in the day's work." 

" But your day is such a tremendously long one." 

" And at the end of a year nothing to show for all 
the days and all the labour ! " 

There was a bitterness in Mr. Moucell's tone that 
his companion had not noticed previously, and he 
hesitated a little before he said, — 

" I want to read some of your books very much. 
Where can I — " 

" You cannot get them anywhere," interrupted the 
man who had been writing so long. " Except a 
couple of volumes of trash, I never published any book 
in my life. There is a lily that grows in many cottage 
gardens which poor people call ' The Life of Man.' 

Did He Deservp: It? 171 

The flower just lives one day. My writing has a much 
shorter existence. It blooms but to die. Lighter 
than thistledown, there is no permanence in it. Once, 
it may be, I could have done as good work as my 
neighbours, but that time is gone and past." 

" Surely, however — " 

*' Do not let us talk about it, please. What can't 
be cured — ^you know. If young men could realize 
that they have only one life to make or spoil, we should 
see, I fancy, not so many futures senselessly wrecked. 
You have your chance now ; take care of it. As for 
me, don't attach any importance to what I have been 
saying. Spite of Mr. Blackshaw's old vintages, I am a 
cup too low to-night ; that is all." 

It was enough. The sight of the glittering plate, of 
a house where money was writ large at every turn, 
seemed more than he could bear, with one sentence 
beating ever upon his brain : '' Another day gone and 
nothing done — another day nearer to ruin." 

It had been hard for any man to sit and talk, and 
listen and laugh, with such a refrain going on, and now, 
when he was in the night air, mentally alone with his 
pressing anxiety, past troubles came and shook hands 
with the present calamity, and cried with gibing 
tongues, " It was for this he worked so indefatigably, 
rose so early, and so late took rest. He thought to 
conquer us, but we have won ; another day gone, and 
nothing has turned up," and so ad libitiwi. 

They had got by this time to that spot where 
Tottenham Court Road pours its volume of traffic into 
New Oxford Street. The noise, glare, and confusion 
made Mr. Mallow feel as if the ground were slipping 
from under his feet, as if his head were reeling. 

172 Did He Desfrve It ? 

" How and when Londoners ever are able to think, 
if ever they do think, I cannot imagine," he said to 
Mr. Moucell, as they stood waiting for an omnibus. 

*' Why should they not be able to think ? " 

" Because of the ceaseless noise and the endless 

"If you lived in London, my dear fellow, you would 
soon find the trouble is not to think," and Mr. Moucell 
laughed bitterly. 


Conservative as he could but be considered, Mr. 
Moucell had many feelings in common with Modern 
Socialism — a fact the less surprising when it is remem- 
bered the only difference between that new light and 
any old one seems to be that while a high and dry 
Tory of former days was honestly determined to keep 
all the property he owned, the latest development of 
democratic ideas wants to get and keep all the property 
he can, owned by other people. 

Most things move in circles; therefore this apparent 
retrogression is probably merely the result of some 
natural law people at present fail to understand. 

Perhaps, however, it was only because he was, as he 
said, a " cup too low " that the sight of Mr. Blackshaw's 
house, and guests, and plate, and assured prosperity, 
had proved almost more than Mr. Moucell could bear. 
On another's hearth were warmth and brightness ; 
beside his own couched the spectre of coming ruin. 
Was it any marvel, then, that as he walked past the 
building where he had for so many a long year done 
such yeoman's work his heart burnt within him, and, 
against his will, he spake ? 

'' Ay, certainly," thus ran his thoughts, while the 
omnibus jogged onward to Charing Cross, " the race is 
not to the swift or the battle to the strong. Why 

174 Dii> He Deserve It? 

should Blackshaw, who, I'll be bound, never did much 
save take his salary, sit at ease, while I, who have 
laboured like a galley-slave, am to be sold up ? " 

" Another day gone, and nothing done," came in 
the sickening refrain. There were but six more, and 
one of those six, Sunday, in which anything could be 
done, for he had not taken, and did not intend to 
take, steps towards securing the other four our law 
graciously allows to individuals willing and able to pay 
for such indulgence. 

He made up his mind not to spend sixpence more 
in costs than was unavoidable. If Messrs. Gabriel, 
Michael, and Co. refused to give him time and sent in 
a man — why, then he, Mr. Moucell, would go to his 
landlord and ask him to clear the decks. What was 
to happen after that he did not know. 

A nice future for anyone to see looming ahead ; a 
delightful little story to have hidden away in his heart, 
the while he forced himself to speak on indifferent 
subjects to the guest he trusted would be gone before 
affairs came to a crisis. 

Even Mr. Shusan might have pitied Mr. Moucell 
had he known of his anxiety, but it is extremely un- 
likely that he would, for he was a gentleman who took 
judicial views of legal matters, and thought no person 
ought to incur debts and costs he was unable to pay, 
or that his friends were unwilling to pay for him. 

Altogether it was a pretty tangle ! Mrs. Howley's 
income had under the pressure of another necessity 
been forestalled for nearly a year, and her outing to 
try to borrow proved utterly disappointing. Mr. 
Moucell knew that, for she returned immediately after 
he so unconsciously ended the merry orgie his children 

Did He Deserve It? 175 

were holding, and a few words served to explain all 
her downcast expression left unsaid. 

After such a day's experiences the dinner party did 
not go far towards improving Mr. Moucell's spirits, for 
to know that another has money and to spare, while 
you have none, may be gratifying in a philanthropic 
sense, but fails to line any empty pocket. 

And how this man with empty pockets had slaved, 
toiled, and denied himself, " none save the Almighty," 
to quote his own words, ''would ever know." He 
was right ; he had kept no record of days and nights 
full of work, full of harass ; no diary of feelings, regrets 
rebuffs. Like a soldier on the battle-field, he had no 
time for the indulgence of such self-pity, but that night, 
when he seemed beaten, his heart felt full of sorrow 
for himself. It was the contrast which opened a well 
long sealed, the contrast between Bedford Square and 
South Lambeth, between Desmond Gerald Mallow 
and John Moucell, that let loose all the bitter waters 
which filled his soul. 

And yet, curiously enough, he knew he had but to 
ask and have, only to tell Mrs. Alston, and receive 
fifty, or five times fifty, pounds at once. 

This was more than he could do, however. He 
was Socialist enough to desire Mr. Blackshaw's 
money as a right, but he would not take his sister's as 
a favour. 

No doubt the burglar's feeling is often identical. 
He will not burden the rates ; instead, he annexes 
another man's goods. 

Mr. Moucell had no thought of forcibly annexing Mr. 
Blackshaw's balance at that gentleman's bank— he 
only wished he had it— which merely proves that 

i76 Did He Deserve It ? 

though the wish may be parent to the thought, the 
relationship of thought to deed is more remote than 
the majority of people imagine. 

'^ I should not touch that proof to-night, if I were 
you," he said to Mr. Mallow, after that gentleman 
had, as usual, declined any further refreshment. 
*' Better leave it till morning. I shall not be going 
out early, so can help if needful." 

" I will leave it, then, thank you greatly. What 
I should do without your kind assistance I cannot 


Mr. Moucell could not imagine either, but refrained 
from saying so. 

" Good night, and sound sleep," was the only 
remark he made, and then, when he found himself 
alone, the smile died on his lips, and he turned into 
his study with a weary sigh. 

Nothing of importance had come by the last post ; 
no money, or promise of any ; various inquiries con- 
cerning the delivery of sundry articles, but no editor 
peremptory ; several circulars as usual ; a couple of 
bills, also of course, for when in Mr. Moucell's 
long experience had bills not been arriving from 

someone ? 

In her little room across the hall Joscelyne, tired 
with the day's doings, was sleeping soundly, un- 
conscious that trouble brooded over their home. 
Mr. Moucell had ever kept knowledge of pecuniary 
anxieties from his children, and it was not likely 
he would begin to enlighten any of them in this 


A spell of intense, terrible silence seemed laid 
upon the house. Save for the blackbeetles down- 

Did He Deserve It? 177 

stairs, not a living thing was moving on the premises. 
Mr. Moucell threw himself into a chair, and thought 
until the sound of that refrain which had been keep- 
ing him company all evening grew so loud he felt as 
though it would drive him mad. 

Suddenly he rose and began pacing the room. 
Afore at dead of night he had found movement 
inspire ideas ; why should it do not the same now, 
when he wanted them so badly ? 

He walked up and down and about the narrow 
limits of his study till well-nigh worn out, but nothing 
came except the dreadful chorus which had been 
haunting him for hours. 

It was merely the trouble of weeks put into words, 
but there seemed something so weird and prophetic 
about the constant iteration that he felt as if it 
were growing to be an actual enemy he must fight 

He strove to tear away his mind ; to think of Mrs. 
Alston, Mr. Blackshaw, the lady who sang, any 
person or thing that might divert the current of 
his reflections ; and then, in a moment, all unbidden, 
Greal Russell Street, well-nigh deserted, recurred to 
memory, and he heard again Mr. Mallow's question 
concerning those books which were not to be had any- 

Immediately he stopped and looked about him like 
one dazed, then, " I think they would do it : I believe 
they would," burst joyfully from his lips. "Let me 
see," and unlocking one drawer, rarely opened, he 
pulled out a bundle of papers, and began to read. 
Something had turned up at last, and for a brief space 
sunshine took the place of gloom. 


178 Did He Deserve It? 

It was only for a brief space, however ! He read on 
for nearly an hour, but as he did so the fashion of his 
countenance altered, and those clouds hope had 
dispersed gathered once again, growing darker and 
darker with each column of printed matter he laid 
aside. At last he came to the end of what appeared 
to be, and were, a number of columns and parts of 
columns cut from newspapers and weekly journals. 
Sadly with his left hand he placed the final slip on the 
top of a goodly heap, while he said aloud, — 

'' And this is the best I could do ! Spite of all the 
worry, of all the incessant harass, was there nothing 
better in me to come out ? * Thistledown,' I said ; 
rather froth, froth, froth ; foam on the great river 
of literature ; lighter than vanity. My God ! " and 
his head dropped forward on his outstretched arms, 
and the unhappy man understood, after years, that 
though he had lacked riches and ease of mind and 
leisure much, he had lacked genius more ! 

That was a dark hour — almost the darkest of Mr. 
Moucell's life. Save when the Fenlands politely cast 
the barque containing his fortunes adrift, he had 
experienced nothing like it ; and then he was nearly 
twenty years younger, with hope still strong within 
him, while now — 

He had sat in judgment on others, for which 
reason, when he was, for the first time, forced really 
to sit in judgment on himself, he could not shut his 
eyes to facts. 

The keen critical faculty of which he was so vain 
summed up his strength and weakness in one 
sentence, — 

" A light touch, a dash of cynical humour, a 

Did He Deserve It? 179 

pleasant knack of making much ado about nothing — 
that is all which can be said in your favour. For the rest, 
John Moucell, your articles, read dispassionately, are 
less thafi nothing P 

And it was bitterly true. No one can get out of a 
man what he has not in him. The greatest chemist 
who ever lived must have failed to extract one grain 
of real gold from the mass of glittering rubbish Mr. 
Moucell had been turning out for years. 

His own idea hitherto was that but for a perverse 
fate he could have digged from his own mines heaps 
of precious metal ; but he knew better now. 

The papers lying at his hand were the best things 
he ever did, and had been preserved in the hope that 
some good might be done with them one day, when 
he could find leisure to work them up into really bril- 
liant articles ; yet now he looked at them with pity- 
ing, sorrowful contempt. " Flat, stale, unprofitable," 
he said, contemptuously, " as bread baked a twelve- 
month." Hot out of the oven, they had suited popular 
taste well enough, but cold, in the silence of night, 
they were absolutely destitute of flavour. 

It was a terrible experience ; somewhat akin to 
that of a woman who, beheving herself good-looking, 
accidentally sees her face reflected in a too truthful 
mirror, and learns for the first time she is plain. 

The hour, the circumstances, bodily weariness, 
mental exhaustion, were all against him ; all tended 
to make the heavy blow harder to bear ; but Mr. 
Moucell was not a man to sink utterly under any 
defeat, no matter how crushing. Already common 
sense was coming to his aid, and presently he heard 
her clear voice saying, — 

N 2 

i8o Did He Deserve It? 

''Why are you sitting there instead of seeking 
needful rest ? Though your work may be hght as air, 
it has still been strong enough to keep a roof over 
your head and maintain your family. Let another, 
the biggest author you can name, attempt to do that 
which you have done, and see how he will succeed ! 
What is the beginning and end of the whole matter ? 
You want sixty pounds, and can't get it. Well, sixty 
pounds has dropped from heaven before now, and if 
it does not drop you know the worst that can happen. 
Try to get some sleep." 

"Yes," thought Mr. Moucell, rousing himself, "I 
must sleep ; and as to the rest, affairs will have to 
take their chance. Gerants would accept those 
papers fast enough, I know, but I dare not risk offer- 
ing them ; besides, they would have to be published 
with my name attached — a thing altogether out of 
the question. If I had remembered that, I should 
not have read them." 

Poor Mr. Moucell ! 


The days went by, and sixty pounds did not drop from 
heaven or come from anywhere else. 

When a man is in extremity, he generally finds that 
it is of no use waiting for something to turn up ; he 
must turn it up for himself. To do Mr. Moucell 
justice, he tried hard to accomplish this feat without 
avail, and yet all the while he was buoyed up by a 
very shadowy hope which at last took possession of 
him like an absolute certainty. Drowning men catch 
at straws ; and this man, drowning in a little sea of 
debt, caught at one straw and held it tenaciously. 
Meanwhile, Mr. Mallow, escorted sometimes by 
Joscelyne and one or other of her brothers — some- 
times by Joscelyne alone — saw many sights and many 
places Londoners — perhaps happily for themselves — 
never see at all. 

He went also with Mr. Moucell to various meetings, 
where noted men were pointed out to him ; where he 
heard great men speak. He had been urged to 
extend his stay for another fortnight at all events, but 
would only consent to remain a few days longer than 
the period originally named. 

Asking him to remain even for this short period 
seemed to Mrs. Howley like a tempting of Providence, 
but Joscelyne's father had grown a little reckless, for. 

1 82 Did He Deserve It? 

all unknown to the worthy widow, he was clinging 
with painful persistence to that hope attached to 
nothing tangible, of which mention has been made. 

Proof-correcting went on apace. Practically it was 
Mr. Moucell who really did this work, but according 
to his statement he only ran over it after Mr. Mallow 
had made his amendments. However that might be, 
a proof went from South Lambeth Road direct to the 
printers, and everybody was satisfied except the author, 
who in many cases sacrificed his own wishes to Mr. 
Moucell's maturer judgment. 

In an incredibly short time Mr. Mallow became one 
with the family at South Lambeth Road. He was 
made free of the lower regions, privileged to watch 
Mrs. Howley darning socks, allowed sometimes to 
share the children's tea in the little sitting-room which 
looked out on the conservatory steps and a small 
square of pavement, was asked questions by the boys 
set as traps to catch him, escaping from such snares in 
a way little short of miraculous. He was ere long also 
allowed to hear the young folks " baiting" their aunt, 
an amusement which never seemed to pall. 

There were some words that presented diflliculties 
as great to poor Mrs. Howley as stiff fences to a bad 
equestrian, and Phil especially delighted in "putting 
her at them " and " seeing her come to grief." 

'' Covetous " was awkward to negotiate ; in fact, she 
never got over it properly, always saying " covechous " ; 
but February appeared to be the leap she signally 
failed to take, always ill-treating the name of that 
month with such good-natured innocence of anything 
being amiss as to cause shouts of laughter. 

" Well, aunt," thus Phillip would open the proceed- 

Did He Deserve It? 183 

ings, " what about ' February fill dyke ? ' Can you 
say all that now ? " 

" Why, of course, I always could as well as you." 

'' Say it, then." 

" * Febuary fill dyke.' That is right." 

'' No, it is not." 

" I am sure it is ; I have made no mistake this time. 
Now, have I, Mr. Mallow ? " 

'' You said it very nicely," answered the gentleman 
appealed to. 

" Blarney, blarney ! Oh, you'll not get out of the 
matter so easily, Mr. Mallow. Come, be honest," 
many young voices exclaimed. 

" I am honest. Mrs. Howley did say the word very 

*' The question," declared Philip, " is not whether 
aunt spoke the wordi nicely, but whether ' Febuary ' be 
right. You have been appealed to. What is the 
verdict ? " 

" I am afraid I must give it against you," said Mr. 
Mallow, smiling at the lady, who was brought out as 
regularly as a bear, to make sport for the children. 
" There are two r's in February." 

'' But I have heard Mr. Moucell say, time after 
time, it is of no use taking any notice of spelling," 
remonstrated the perplexed lady. 

" I suppose he meant custom was the only safe 
guide," answered Mr. Mallow, jumping at her mean- 

"And besides, I do put both r's in Febuary — 
there now ! " triumphantly. 

It was irresistible. The young people shrieked ; 
Mr. Mallow himself could not help laughing, while 

i84 Did He Deserve It? 

Mrs. Howley joined in the merriment as heartily as 
anybody ; Joscelyne alone sat apart, silent and 

" Some people cannot pronounce their r's quite 
distinctly,-' said the offender, good-humouredly, when 
order was again restored, " and it may be that I am 
one of them ; but I try my best. Anyhow, I never 
set a whole congregation tittering, like a clergyman 
who once at St. Mary's read out : ' Now, Bawabbas, 
was a wobba ' ! " 

'' Bravo, aunt," cried Philip, patting his relative on 
the back, while the younger fry yelled with delight, 
and Mr. Mallow gave himself up to unrestrained 
enjoj^ment of the joke. " We will condone all your 
offences against February for the sake of that story. 
Where did you hear it ? " 

" Long ago ; just after we came here, but I had 
forgotten till the r's brought it back to mind. It is 
quite true," she went on, addressing Mr. Mallow. " If 
I think for a minute, I shall be able to give you the 
name of the clergyman. He was a noted person." 

" Oh, we do not want his name," returned Mr. 
Mallow ; " a good anecdote needs no father, or 
godfather either." 

" How fortunate it was I happened to remember 
it ! " exclaimed the simple soul, with much com- 

'' Indeed, we are all very much indebted to your 
memory," said the curate, watching Joscelyne, as, 
moved by some inexplicable feeling, she stole round 
and kissed her aunt, who seemed quite taken aback 
by this unwonted tribute of affection. Morning and 
night she and the girl saluted as a matter of form ; 

Did He Deserve It? 185 

but caresses during the day were so rare between 
them as to suggest " Something rotten in the State of 

And in truth such was the case. Unselfishness, if 
unassociated with strength, is a virtue seldom 
respected by the young, and those whom the young 
do not respect they rarely really love. For this reason 
Joscelyne had never loved her aunt overmuch, or 
indeed at all ; and it was only of late that awakening 
conscience — the last thing which springs to life in 
human beings — had begun to prick her, by pointing 
out many sins of omission and more of commission 
towards a woman whose strength lay in thinking 
always of others, and weakness in continually striving 
to keep unpleasantness from them. 

All this Mr. Mallow had guessed long before, and 
felt he liked the girl better for her impulsive act of 
repentance. Indeed, there was nothing he did not 
like about Joscelyne, save her short skirts and her 
wealth of hair, which latter seemed to him a perfect 
nuisance out of doors. It was always blowing over 
her face and hat, and getting entangled in something 
or someone on the steamboat. 

He had asked her two or three times why she did 
not put it up in some way ; but when she replied, " It 
would be so much trouble," he relinquished the 
hopeless task of persuading any female creature 
against her will, and reconciled himself to the flowing 
mane, as he tried to forgive dresses that showed a 
pair of pretty ankles without any coquettish disguise. 

In these matters and in many more he considered 
Mrs. Howley — who had no hair worth mentioning, and 
feet it would have been cruelty to show the world — 

i86 Did He Deserve It? 

wanting. It was her duty to tell the girl she was on 
the verge of womanhood, and ought to put aside 
childish things. 

He had seen covert smiles exchanged by the Con- 
servancy men he did not quite understand, and that 
he certainly did not like, while Joscelyne, on good 
terms with them all, spoke her pleasant greeting and 
passed across the gangway. 

He thought those smiles had reference to the wind- 
tossed hair, often wet with rain, and the dresses which 
wanted " letting down," to use a time-honoured 
phrase ; but the truth was, the Thames Conservancy 
servants had seen both hair and dresses for so long a 
time, all charm of novelty was utterly gone ; and as 
a distinguished physician ^ remarks, " It is only a new 
sensation which gives pleasure." 

No, the sly, meaning glances meant that Miss 
Moucell had '' got a beau exactly to her mind," one 
in whom anybody might take an interest, and feel a 
pride — one of the right sort, in fact, who would 
probably from henceforth be frequently going up and 
down the river. Light broke upon him afterwards, 
but not during the first week of his London ex- 
periences, at the end of which Guy Moucell, the 
" audacious pickle " of that distinguished family, took 
occasion to ask, — 

'' Are you in want of a wife, Mr. Mallow ? " 

" Well, no," answered that gentleman, amused. 
" If I were, do you know of anyone who would suit 

me? " 

" Down to the ground — suit to a T ! " was the 

* Dr. George Harley, who has, alas ! died since the above was 

Did He Deserve It? 187 

reply. " Tuck you snugly up if ill, and let nothing 
vex you when well. The right sort of wife in all 

" Really, that sounds very alluring. Pray proceed, 

" She's a bit older than you, but that is all the 
better ; young ones often jib ; warranted quiet in 
double harness ; has some money, which always makes 
things more comfortable. She is greatly taken with 
you — says you are such a gentleman." 

" I am at a loss how to express my obligations. 
May I ask where and when the lady arrived at so 
flattering a conclusion ? " 

"Ah! that's my secret ; but if you think well of 
the matter, you shall hear more shortly. You might 
take a house in this neighbourhood, so that we could 
all go and stay with you — by turns, I mean — then you 
need never feel lonely." 

'* No, I do not think I should. The fair unknown 
might object, however." 

" No fear of that ; and if she did, we would go all 
the same. I am glad you like the notion. It is a long 
time since there has been a wedding in the family — 
never in our memory — and one is due now, I think. 
It will be prime ! " 

^' Guy, I am afraid you are a very bad boy." 

*' Bad ! for trying to settle you comfortably ! If 
that is all the thanks you are going to give me, I will 
have nothing more to do with the matter." 

" Indeed, I think you would be wise." 

"And what are we to do with the disconsolate 
damsel, who keeps singing your praises morning, noon, 
and night ? Except the dad, she says she never knew 

i88 Did He Deserve It? 

anybody like you — T mean anybody so nice. As for 
her first husband, who was a tax-collector, or some- 
thing of that sort, I don't believe she ever cared two- 
pence about him, so you need not be afraid of the dear 
departed being flung at your head." 

Which last statement, changing doubt into cer- 
tainty, Mr. Mallow felt it incumbent on him to read 
the young gentleman a lecture on bad taste ; but he 
might as well have spared himself the trouble. 

Lectures made not the slightest impression on any 
of the Moucell boys. 


Seven days had raced by, and the evening before that 
writ was returnable arrived in due course. Looking 
back, it seemed to Mr. Moucell about a year since he 
encountered Mr. Shusan's cynical glance at the 
theatre ; but the hours, full of worry, in passing had 
flown and left no tangible souvenir behind them save 
ten pounds, the outcome of as hard work as the un- 
fortunate debtor ever accomplished. 

Nothing had turned up save disappointment, which 
may generally be safely reckoned on by persons in a 
like position. 

The suspense had told ; Mr. Moucell was looking 
haggard, though his face still wore the cheerful ex- 
pression which carried him over so many a difficulty 
and deceived such a number of people concerning his 
real position. 

Nevertheless, his heart was sick with hope deferred 
as he walked home on that evening which preceded 
the legal day when safety would expire. A drizzling 
rain was falling, but that did not depress him more 
than circumstances had already done. 

What does the weather — what does anything ex- 
ternal — signify to a man who, wanting fifty pounds 
badly, has racked his brains considering how to 
procure that amount, in vain ? 

Change the figures, and the same remark applies to 

190 Did He Deserve It? 

anyone in similar case from duke to costermonger ; 
be the amount little or great, it is what we cannot get 
that vexes our souls. 

By mutual agreement, dinner at South Lambeth 
Road had been altered for many days into supper, as 
so much " more pleasant and convenient," to quote 
Mr. Mallow ; therefore, it was at that informal meal 
Mr. Moucell met his guest on the evening in question, 
when by rare chance they were not " due " anywhere 

It would be difficult to imagine nicer little suppers 
than those provided in South Lambeth Road. 

Of necessity cold, they lacked no grace of cooking, 
garnish, or relish. They were, in fact, triumphs of 
old-fashioned housekeeping, and seemed to Mr. Mallow, 
who came from a land where cooks no later than his 
father's time were born, not made, alas ! it is so now, 
chef-d'oeuvres in their way. 

It was over one of these little meals that on the 
dismal night when Mr. Moucell stood almost face to 
face with ruin, Mr. Mallow disburdened himself about 
half-past nine of the clock. By the last post he had 
received a cheque from Messrs. Gerant which seemed 
to him all too large, though only for the amount 
originally agreed, and also at the same time a letter 
for him to sign embodying the promise which had 
been made concerning his next book, of which not 
much more than half was yet written. 

" You see, it is all so new to me," said the young 
man, half-crazed with delight at handling money sent 
to him for the first time in his capacity as author. " I 
cannot think the thing real. How good of Messrs. 
Gerant to pay me before the book is out ! " 

Did He Deserve It? 191 

No one knew better than Mr. Moucell how hard he 
had tried to get that cheque forwarded at an earher 
date. It was, in fact, the straw he held — the rope 
attached to nothing which he clutched. 

The Gerants were business men, and Hberal ; 
nevertheless, rules bound and prejudice tied them, and 
they liked to post tens, and fifties, and hundreds of 
pounds when it suited their convenience to do so, 
rather than when it suited the convenience of other 
people to receive them. 

In this respect Mr. Thomas Gerant was more modern 
than his father, and turned a deaf ear to Mr. Moucell's 
hints that the charming spectacle of a cheque might 
render Mr. Mallow less restive under the idea liberties 
had been taken with his manuscript. 

^' Now and then he seems to miss some accustomed 
pet phrase, and it is all I can do to quiet him," said 
the veteran author. 

'* I put that matter right a few days ago," was Mr. 
Thomas Gerant's unexpected reply. " I told him 
frankly we found it necessary to have some curious 
turns of expression altered. He said of course ' he 
should have liked to correct them himself.' Most 
happily, I had kept a Hst which I laid before him. 
' Can you see where those are wrong ? ' I asked. No, 
he could not. ' Then it would have been impossible 
for you to correct them,' I answered ; whereupon he 

"After that I explained ; he is very good-tempered, 
and there will not be any more trouble. I told him 
' when we pubHshed a book for English readers they 
expected us to bring it out in a language which they 
understood,' at which remark he laughed again. 

192 Did He Deserve It ? 

" * You are very hard on me,' he said. 

" * Cruel but to be kind,' I answered. ' Your novel 
is a good one, and we cannot give it to the world 
marred by blemishes.' As for the cheque, he shall 
have it shortly," with which assurance Mr. Moucell 
had to seem satisfied, and left greatly dissatisfied. 

Now at the last hour the money was come, and 
Mr. Mallow, in the seventh heaven of happiness, said 
he considered it far too much, and thought he should 
go and see Messrs. Gerant about it. 

'' Take my advice, and do nothing of the sort," 
answered Mr. Moucell. ^* Send them a receipt and 
sign the letter they enclose, but say not a word about 
taking a smaller amount. Beware of placing too low 
a price on yourself. If you think your work worth 
little, others will soon begin to consider it worth less 
than even that little. Messrs. Gerant know what they 
are about. Remember, they are pubHshers, not 
philanthropists ; very honest and liberal-minded, I 
admit, but certainly most unlikely to pay you a higher 
price for your book than they believe to be its value. 
Besides, always bear in mind a publisher is an author's 
natural enemy." 

'' Why ? " asked Mr. Mallow. 

" Because, to slightly alter Dr. Watts, * God hath 
made him so.' " 

'' Now, I should have thought a publisher an author's 
natural friend," ventured the curate. 

" Should you ? Why, even mice have more sense 
than to believe cats feel for them real affection." 

"You make me very sad, Mr. Moucell." 

" Then let us talk of something else. Recollect, I 
do not class all the fraternity together. There are 

Did He Deserve It ? 193 

high-minded, honourable publishers, just as I suppose 
there are honest lawyers," with a savage recollection 
of the heavenly host and their pestilent charges. 
" Still, it is safer in going through life, more especially 
London life, not to assume that a man is possessed of 
all the virtues. I see Gerants' cheque is crossed. 
Shall I get it cashed for you ? " 

Mr. Moucell found it difficult to steady his voice as 
he asked the question. This was the trump card he 
had been intending to play, and it proved hard to 
throw it out carelessly. 

" Oh, no, thank you ; I will pass it through my own 

Mr. Moucell felt as if he had dropped from heaven 
to earth, or even a greater distance, in the space of a 

"But that will cost something." He could not let 
the chance slip without an effort to seize it. 

" I do not think so ; in any case, the charge will be 
only a mere trifle, and a cheque is always safer carriage 
than notes or gold." 

" Oh, confound your cleverness ! " thought his host, 
in an access of disappointment ; " but it is just what 
I might have expected ; all the world over, babes and 
sucklings now know their way about much better than 
grey-headed men. I believe it is true wisdom to cash 
a cheque as soon as possible," he said, aloud, uttering 
the remark in quite an indifferent tone. 

" Indeed, and why ? " 

"What a fellow he is for wanting to know," con- 
sidered Mr. Moucell, even as he answered, jauntily 
"Only, I suppose, because such things have been 
known as sudden death — and failure." 

194 Did He Deserve It ? 

Mr. Mallow smiled. " I will take my chance," he 
said. " It was most kind of you to think about the 
matter, and I feel greatly obliged. You have been 
thinking and doing for me ever since I came to 
London," he added, gracefully. " I wonder when the 
chance will present itself of paying even part of the 
debt of gratitude I owe ? " 

"Why, here, now, »this instant," returned Mr. 
Moucell, in his aggrieved heart, but he only murmured 
the usual commonplace sentence, that he had been 
able to do nothing, that he felt too glad to make him- 
self of the slightest use, and so forth, all the time long- 
ing to inflict some serious injury on Mr. Mallow in 
return for his wisdom, prudence, suspicion, folly, in 
putting that cheque in his pocket-book, instead of 
consigning it to the custody of a man who might have 
been safely trusted to " melt it " within twelve hours. 
And yet had the author of " The Offences of His 
Forefathers " only guessed the true state of affairs, he 
would have handed over any number of cheques, had 
he possessed them, v/ith delight, and patiently waited 
his host's convenience to repay. 

Mr. Moucell only desired a few days' use of the 
money — or rather, part of it — and might have com- 
passed his desire by opening his mouth ; but just as he 
would not ask Mrs. Alston, so he could not confess to 
Mr. Mallow. 

It was a sore strait for any man to be placed in, yet 
there was no need surely for him to regard the curate 
with bitter animosity merely because that individual 
did not possess the gift of divination, which, if he 
had owned it, would have made Mr. Mallow more angry 

Did He Deserve It ? 195 

There are states of mind which it is very hard to 

''If you will be so good as to witness my signature, 
I think I had better get this letter off my mind to- 
night," said Mr. Mallow, after a short silence. 

" There is no necessity for a witness to such a simple 
matter," answered Mr. Moucell. " But as you please, 
of course." 

" I should like everything to be as perfectly in order 
as possible." 

" Sign then, by all means." 

The words were spoken a little impatiently, and 
Mr. Mallow looked up surprised, only to meet that 
smile which was growing stereotyped, and made him 
feel sure he had been mistaken. 

" Now, I will just go across with this to the pillar- 
box," he said, after he had dashed off a little note 
of thanks which was to accompany the formal 

" Let me take it for you," and Mr. Moucell stretched 
out his hand for the envelope. 

" No, no, no ! " cried the fortunate author. " You 
have been out all day, and must be tired to death. 
Have you nothing for post ? What ! nothing ! 
that is a marvel. I will leave the door open. I shall 
not be gone a moment," and, seizing his hat, he passed 
gaily out into the night, leaving Mr. Moucell alone 
with the useless straw at which he had caught 
dropping from his fingers, and the rope attached to 
nothing, to which he had been clinging for days 
lying at his feet. 

And the morrow was the eighth day ! 

o 2 


" Something musfhe done." 

This was the more promising phrase which, as the 
sound of Mr. Mallow's footsteps died away, replaced 
that awful refrain which had long been haunting Mr. 
Moucell. To feel one must do is often bad enough, 
but it is not nearly so bad as to know one has not 


'* Something must be done." Each word dropped 
down like a separate pebble clear and cold into Mr. 
Moucell's tired heart. It was of no use fooHng with 
affairs any longer ; if he did not bestir himself, and to 
some purpose, the waves of trouble would soon be 
bearing all he valued out to seas unknown. He could 
hear the sound of their wash as they swept nearer 
and nearer over the shore which had once seemed 
to stretch so securely between his pleasant home and 
the great ocean which now threatened to engulf it. 
Yes, he must be up and about. It was all very well to 
talk as he had talked to himself about going to the 
landlord and letting that gentleman — and rates and 
taxes — take precedence of Messrs. Michael, Gabriel and 
Co., but where was he to turn without furniture or 
any amount of money ; where once again set up his 
poor household gods, with nine children accustomed 
to regular meals, who had to be lodged, clothed, and 
educated beside ? 

Did He Deserve It? 197 

It was an awful prospect, and all for want of fifty 
pounds, which amount and more lay warm and snug 
in Mr. Mallow's breast pocket. 

For one wild moment Mr. Moucell thought 01 
throwing himself on his visitor's kindness, but he re- 
jected the idea immediately. If it had been scarcely 
possible before he offered to get that cheque cashed, 
it was impossible after. 

Something must be done, but quite independently 
of the budding author. 

" How white you are ! " involuntarily exclaimed 
Mr. Mallow, when he re-entered the hall where his 
host was standing, with the gaslight streaming across 
his pale face and dark hair, growing thin in front. 
" You must be sadly fagged, I am afraid." 

" A little — nothing worth speaking of ; and now I 
feel sure you will excuse me if I say good-night. I 
have some work which must be finished." 

*' Ah ! how I wish I could help you as you have 
helped me ! " in a tone of warm and unaffected 
sympathy. " Is there nothing I could do — copy — 

Mr. Moucell laughed. " Copy ! " he said ; " I never 
think of such a thing. As a rule, my manuscript goes 
wet to the printer ; and in any case it is sent bearing 
all its original sins on its devoted head." 

*' Dear me ! I should not like that." 

" Judging from what I have seen, I do not imagine 
you would ; but busy men have no leisure to read and 
re-read their work. Talking of busy men, the one 
thing I never have understood, and suppose I never 
shall, is how leaders are written. Take any first-rate 
paper, and consider the three or four columns of really 

198 Did He Deserve It? 

brilliant matter that appear every working day 
throughout twelve months. Have you ever thought 
about the men who write them ? I knew one fellow 
who turned out fully three hundred a year ! He had 
got so into the knack of his business that I believe if 
you had wakened him out of his first sleep and said 
' leader,' he could have got up then and there and 
written something most delightful on any given subject 
you chose to select. Now, that I can't understand. 
I should like to have a few hours for thought and 

Mr. Mallov\^ did not understand it either. He said 
he " fancied there could not be much pleasure in 
writing under such conditions." 

" We poor hacks never think of pleasure — only of 
pay," returned Mr. Moucell, after which concise state- 
ment the pair separated, Mr. Mallow to dream waking 
dreams and see charming visions, and the father of 
nine to exorcise memory for a brief period while 
finishing a telling little paper on " People Who Never 
Borrow," which was the complementary article to one 
on " People Who Never Lend " he had written a few 
days before in his very best and bitterest style. 
Though it would have been difficult to say exactly 
why, Mr. Blackshaw's dinner had supplied him with 
materials for both, as well as several others that, 
evanescent as the flower of the Gum Cistus, duly 
bloomed their short day and died and were for- 

But before their leaves fluttered to earth they 
brought grist to the mill, though not enough to 
satisfy Mr. Shusan, to whom Mr. Moucell's thoughts 
reverted as he laid down his pen. 

Did He Deserve It ? 199 

" I will go to Gerants in the morning," he said half- 
aloud. " That is what I ought to have done at first." 
And having made up his mind to swallow this bitter 
pill, he went. 

• ••••••• 

'' Mr. Gerant will not be here till the afternoon," a 
clerk stated in answer to his inquiries. 

'' I had forgotten this was his day for Clerkenwell," 
returned Mr. Moucell, who had indeed forgotten that 
important fact. " Mr. Thomas in ? " 

" He will be disengaged in a few minutes," at the 
end of which time exit from Mr. Thomas' room a 
seedy-looking individual whose mission on earth was 
canvassing for advertisements, and enter Mr. Moucell, 
who found the junior partner in anything but a 
'^ coming on " state of mind. 

The cause of his bad temper was not the ill- 
advised solicitations of that persistent canvasser, but 
an unfortunate meeting with Mr. Mallow and 
Joscelyne, who were bound for Madame Tussaud's, 
of all places in the world, unchaperoned by even a 
younger brother. 

Josceylne's hair selected that precise moment when 
the three stopped to exchange greetings in order to 
fling itself in a state of wild confusion over Mr. 
Mallow's shoulder, and Mr. Mallow, while removing 
the long tresses, felt and showed an amount of em- 
barrassment for which he could scarcely have ac- 
counted, though, indeed, had it been his own sister's 
locks that clung so persistently to him, he would have 
felt quite as much annoyed. 

Mr. Gerant, however, regarded the whole incident 
as a confirmation of his worst suspicions, and the fact 

200 Did He Deserve It? 

that Joscelyne was looking unusually pretty and happy 
did not tend to allay them. 

He considered the whole proceeding most improper ; 
he thought a clergyman ought to have known better ; 
he wondered what the inhabitants of Kilbrannon 
would say if they saw their curate with a girl's hair 
blowing over his coat in Regent Street ! He could 
not imagine what Mr. Moucell was thinking about ; 
he wished the coming author back in his native bogs ; 
he failed to conceive why he had come to England ; and 
then on the top of all this Mr. Moucell walked in and 
asked for the advance of fifty pounds there and then 
as coolly and confidently as if fifty-pound notes grew in 
Old Bond Street like gooseberries in cottage gardens. 

** I must speak to my father," answered Mr. Gerant, 
and from his manner Mr. Moucell guessed he should 
not get what he asked. Perhaps he had preferred 
his request a little abruptly, but it was very hard to 
prefer it at all, and something in the publisher's 
manner puzzled him. 

''You should be repaid as soon as possible," he 
ventured, and his tone was almost humble. 

'' I don't doubt that," said Mr. Gerant, and then he 
paused ; there is a great art in keeping an applicant 
for money on the tenter-hooks, and quite uncon- 
sciously the younger man was practising it, "but we 
have had some heavy drains lately," he went on, 
" and it is a bad time of the year for getting in 

Mr. Moucell inwardly wondered at what precise 
season there were not heavy drains, and when debtors 
rushed to pay accounts ; but he held his peace, and 
felt sore oppressed. 

Did He Deserve It? 201 

" By the way, talking of payments/' went on the 
junior partner, as if they had convened a meeting in 
order to discuss that matter quite dispassionately, " we 
sent a cheque to your friend yesterday." 

" So he told me," returned Mr. Moucell, briefly, 
perplexed to imagine why all at once Mr. Mallow had 
become peculiarly his friend rather than the friend of 
Gerant and Co. 

'' I met him and your daughter about an hour since 
on their way, I think, to Madame Tussaud's." 

'' Ho, ho ! that accounts for the milk in the cocoa- 
nut," thought Mr. Moucell, sure Mr. Thomas Gerant 
meant to persist in his refusal, even while he said, 
aloud, — 

" Yes ; Mr. Mallow wanted to see Tussaud's, and 
as it promised to be a dull sort of day, I thought they 
might as well go there as anywhere else." 

''Miss Moucell, then, I presume, knows her London 
as well as your boys." 

" Hardly so well as Phil, or even Edgar ; but my 
sons can't always get off ; they are working for their 
exams. Besides, I don't think any of them could be 
hired to go to the wax show again." 

" Disillusioned ; early days ! " and Mr. Gerant 
moved his papers impatiently, as one who felt tempted 
to ask, '' Why, having got your answer, do you not 
go 1 " 

Mr. Moucell, outwardly calm, but inwardly boiling 
over, took the hint and rose. 

"I am sorry to have troubled you," he remarked ; 
" had it not been that the affair is of great importance 
to me, I should never have asked your help." 

" I hope you know we are always willing to do what 

202 Did He Deserve It? 

we can for you, but it is a large sum you name, and 
I could not advance it on my own responsibility. I 
will speak to my father when he comes, and write to 

** But, you see, I want the money to-day." 

" I am really very sorry ; it is a large amount, 
though, to hand over in a moment. Why did you 
not apply to us sooner ? " 

" Because I hoped not to have to apply at all. 
However, there is no use in talking about that, so I 
will not detain you any longer." 

" If ten pounds would be any good," hesitated the 
younger man, " I could write you a cheque at once." 

" It would not be of the slightest, thank you," and 
Mr. Moucell determinedly took his leave, and passed 
through the outer office, resolved that let who would 
convey his petition to Mr. Gerant, senior, it should not 
be " my son Thomas." 


Most men when pecuniarily embarrassed invest freely 
in hansoms, but Mr. Moucell knew better than to 
fling away shillings where pennies would serve his turn ; 
therefore it was that, after metaphorically shaking the 
dust of Messrs. Winstone Wire and Wragge's once 
fashionable establishment from off his feet, he climbed 
to the top of an omnibus on his first stage to Wilming- 
ton Square, hard by which locality Mr. Gerant, senior, 
had planted his son John, who, though not wicked, 
was flourishing like a green bay tree. 

Behind all the sons was the father and the father's 
money, and without both they would probably not 
have done so well. 

John had been Mr. Gerant's first venture into the 
unknown dangers of a sinking business. 

The young man had, when a mere lad, been placed 
with Latterton and Co., printers, then perfectly 
solvent ; but as the 3'ears went by one partner retired 
and took his capital with him ; soon after another 
died, and the executors withdrew his share likewise, 
which was enough to tax the resources of any business, 
even had no other trouble arisen. 

A still worse trouble did arise, however, in the 
shape of an extravagant and unruly young fellow, the 
principal's nephew, who brought matters to the verge 
of ruin. 

204 Did He Deserve It? 

It was then Mr. Gerant's aid was invoked, not 
vainly, for he had known the Lattertons long and 

He found money to tide over many difficulties, and 
when the senior partner, vanquished by a hard fight 
against adverse circumstances, said the struggle must 
be abandoned, took the whole business over as a going 
concern, retaining such of the Lattertons as wished 
to remain at good salaries, and installing John Gerant, 
a most capable man, head over all. 

'' My son John " proved more than equal to the 
position. No Gerant was a simpleton, but John turned 
out the cleverest of any. 

It is generally either the eldest or the youngest 
of a family who makes a success, and so far the 
record of Thomas, last born, did not promise any 
effective display of fireworks ; rather the contrary, 

He had been intended for a doctor, but sickened 
over his first post-mortem. He then went in for law, 
and did not like it ; after that a friend suggested 
California, but his mother could not bear the idea of 
parting with her favourite. 

In fact, Mr. Thomas Gerant was a home bird, and 
the business of a publisher, if it only could be pushed, 
seemed likely to suit his wild ambitions perfectly. 

Though a most honest, affectionate, good fellow, 
the Apostle's eloquent language would only mildly have 
represented Mr. Moucell's opinion concerning the 
unhappy man as he journeyed first to Oxford Circus 
and thence to Clerkenwell. 

" I, who have saved them hundreds, nay thousands, 
of pounds" — thus ran his soliloquy — "to be refused 

Did He Deserve It? 205 

a poor fifty. Just wait awhile, Mr. Thomas Gerant, 
and you will find you have made a mistake. I will 
pay you out, never fear." And then he thought, 
with a grim satisfaction, that Joscelyne and Mr. Mallow 
had already begun the paying out process for him. 
He felt confident that business was in a good way. 
Mrs. Howley had remarked how much " taken " their 
visitor seemed with the girl, and what a " suitable 
match " it would be, and Mr. Moucell had begged her 
not to speak of such a thing, " for she is still but a 
child," he said ; nevertheless, his own heart was set 
on the project, which he believed could be carried 
through if only an execution did not come to spoil 
everything, whereupon the old misery once again 
overwhelmed him, his very soul sickened as he 
pictured the " man in possession," and his spirit burnt 
with rage when he recalled how he had asked only for 
fifty pounds and been refused. 

He was not in a nice frame of mind to go begging ; 
but when he arrived at his destination, a cordial 
" Why, Mr. Moucell, what pleasant wind has blown 
you here ? " seemed to cheer his fainting heart, and 
enable him to go straight to the point. Without 
break or pause he told how he had owed a man 
ninety odd pounds, and then how the man, who never 
pressed him, died, and a very wolf took up the run- 
ning ; how he had offered that wolf, who would take 
nothing but the whole, part of the debt ; how he had 
tried to raise the money and failed ; how the last day 
was come ; how he had gone to Old Bond Street, 
where Mr. Thomas had said the matter must wait his 
father's arrival; how, in very despair, he determined 
to get on to Clerkenwell, state his case, and appeal 

2o6 Did He Deserve It? 

for aid ; " And if you can and will help me, Mr. Gerant," 
he finished, '' you shall be paid the moment I am able 
to scrape the amount together. If not, there may be 
an execution in to-morrow, and that young Irishman 
staying with us, and — " 

His voice trailed off ; he had no more to say, and 
even if there had been anything he could not have said 
it. Weariness and anxiety had told, and he was quite 
hoarse before speech failed him. 

^' I am so sorry," answered Mr. Gerant ; '' yes, of 
course you shall have what you want. I will be back 
in a minute." 

A lump rose in Mr. Moucell's throat. He knew at 
last what women feel when they want a good cry 
and cannot have one. The tension had been so great, 
he could scarcely realize that it was over even when 
he held Latterton's crossed cheque for sixty pounds, 
and saw " pay cash " written under the line and initialed 
by the firm. 

''I thought there might be further expenses, and it 
was as well to be on the safe side," explained Mr. 
Gerant, senior, referring to the amount. 

'' Shall we get the money for you ? " he went on, 
seeing Mr Moucell did not look very fit to get it for 
himself, but that gentleman answered, " No, thank 
you," in a low tone, and rose and wrung Mr. Gerant's 

'' I can't say what I should like," he went on, " but 
I feel. You will never know what this means to me 
and to my children. Good-bye for the present ; I 
will see you again shortly," and he went out of the 
office with a heavy, dragging step, as if very tired, and 
Mr. Gerant remarked afterwards to his son John, — 

Did He Deserve It? 207 

" I am sorry I had not a glass of wine to offer 
him " ; and John, even while sympathizing, 
answered , — 

" The cheque will be more of a ' pick up ' than 
champagne, I fancy ! " for that capable individual was 
given to speak <plain truths without the slightest 
thought of sarcasm. " You think he will repay you ? " 
he added. 

" Certain — either in meal or in malt.'' 

In Exmouth Street Mr. Moucell hailed a cab, for he 
had no strength left ; with the necessity for exertion 
gone, all vigour seemed to have departed. He realized 
what he had passed through ; realized also there 
are some victories which partake of the nature of 

" I'd rather have paid a hundred per cent, for the 
money than got it this way," he thought ; but then 
he could not have got it by paying a hundred per 
cent., so that little speech was only a bit of poor 
salve to his pride. 

When they reached Princes Street Mr. Moucell 
indicated with his umbrella that he wished to stop at 
the Joint Stock Bank. 

**Wait," he said to the driver, and passed through 
the swing door, and straight on to the counter, where 
he handed Messrs. Latterton's cheque to a cashier, 
who looked at it, turned it over, examined the 
endorsement, and then looked at the initialed 
"pay cash" again as if he did not approve of such 

" How will you have it ? " he asked at last. 

" Short," answered Mr. Moucell ; and in another 
minute he had placed two notes in his pocket-book, 

2o8 Did He Deserve It ? 

buttoned up his top coat securely, and was bowling 
away to Lincoln's Inn Fields, where Messrs. Michael 
and Co. held court. 

He may have been wrong, but he thought Mr. 
Shusan looked disappointed when he told the latter 
he had come to discharge his liability, though he 
remarked, graciously, — 

'' I am very glad you have been able to manage this.*' 
'' Thank you," said Mr. Moucell, whose thoughts 
just then were too big for words. 

" We never know what we can do till we try, do 
we ? " went on the lawyer. 

" We never know what we have to do till we are 
tried," amended Mr. Moucell. 

" Ha ! ha ! Very good ! " exclaimed Mr. Shusan, 
after which burst of applause, conversation languished 
till the entrance of a clerk with particulars, brought 

" What a delightful profession yours must be ! " 
observed Mr. Shusan, undeterred by previous 
experience. " Nothing to do but sit down and write 
and receive large cheques." 

" Yours must be more delightful still," retorted 
Mr. Moucell ; " nothing to do but order other people 
to write and rake in costs ad libj^ after which " straight 
one " Mr. Shusan said, with suspicious humility, — 

" Ah ! I see it is of no use for a dull dog like 
myself to try conclusions with a clever author," and 
then the two, with hatred rankling at their hearts, 
bade each other " good afternoon," and that matter 
was settled. 

" I must have something to eat," decided Mr. 
Moucell, as he passed into Carey Street ; and he 

Did He Deserve It? 209 

went to a place he wot of near at hand, and had a 

chop and glass of bitter before interviewing any of 

his business connections. Save a meagre breakfast, he 

had fasted all day, and the chop did not set him up as 

he hoped it might. 

The fact is, after forty a man cannot take great 

sensations out of himself without suffering for it, and 

that day Mr. Moucell realized for the first time youth 

was past. The knowledge proved horrible to him, 

but he could not shut his eyes to facts. He must be 

more careful for the future. Perhaps, after all, Mr. 

Mallow was right, and he had been burning the 

candle too freely at both ends. 

Half-past seven had struck when he reached home; 

out into the night floated the melody of an old air 

sung by Joscelyne. Looking up, her father saw 

shadows on the blind, which showed Mr. Mallow was 

standing close by the piano. 

'* It all works to a marvel," passed through his 

mind. "The path is quite clear now." 

Joscelyne's voice was clear and young. She had a 

tender taste in music, and the same sympathy which 

made her lie awake weeping over Mr. Mallow's 

heroes and heroines enabled her to sing with feeling 

some Irish melodies the curate had bought for her to 

try; over-rated melodies they may be, but yet there is 

a subtle charm in them which affected Mr. Moucell as 

he stood in the hall Hstening. 

" There is not in this wide world a valley so sweet 
As that vale in whose bosom the wide waters meet." 

Yes, that was the burden of her song. 

Where had he heard it last } 

Twenty long years before, when ''Time one day 


2IO Did He Deserve Tt? 

was gathering roses." He had life all before him 
then ; he had a good part of life behind him now, 
and he was feeling worn out, and a party still loomed 
before him that night. 

" To which I feel sure you are much too tired to 
go," said Mr. Mallow, over their pleasant supper. 
'' Let us give it up — do." 

" No," answered Mr. Moucell ; " I am tired, but 
that is nothing. I would not have you miss this 
gathering for any consideration." 

Which gathering was to be in Sloane Street, where 
up the wide staircase and through the spacious old- 
fashioned rooms, " love, wit, and valour wandered " ; 
lovely women, brilliant speakers, the coming wonders 
of this old world ; those who had made history, and 
others who were making it ; all, all were there. 

''A truly remarkable party ! " said Mr. Mallow, as 
they drove home about two o'clock in the morning, 
wondering as he spoke not merely how Londoners 
ever found time to think, but when they ever had 
time to sleep. 

And yet there is probably no place in the world 
where so much sound sleeping is got through as in 
England's great metropolis. 


It was the Friday week after Mr. Mallow's arrival in 
London when, about eight o'clock in the evening, he 
and his host and Philip walked down the South 
Lambeth Road on their way home. 

The three had been over the General Post Office, 
beheld many of its inner mysteries the outside public 
does not as a rule wot of, and were returning, each 
laden with his own little cargo of ideas. 

Of course, Mr. Moucell meant his ideas to take the 
form of an article, but the two others were happily 
innocent of any such evil intention. 

Phil was unusually silent. Before he and Mr. 
Mallow started to meet his father, that self-suffi- 
cient young gentleman had got the worst of a 
'' heckling," which he proposed inflicting on the 

Fortunately during the previous day Mr. Mallow 
had seen the three elder lads sniggering over D'Israeli's 
'' Curiosities of Literature," and therefore, though he 
could not tell what was coming, felt prepared for the 

'* Do you think it a sin to kill anything, Mr. 
Mallow ? " was Mr. Phil's first shot. 

*' Perhaps you will kindly condescend to particu- 

" I cannot in a general proposition." 

P 2 

212 t)iD He Deserve It? 

" May I help you ? " asked Mr. Mallow, who guessed 
what the boys had been reading. " Shall we say 
rats ? " 

^' I had not r*ats in my mind." 

"Waterton," pursued the clergyman, "who loved 
almost all God's creatures, drew the line at the Hano- 
verian rat." 

" I was not thinking of rats," repeated Phil, with 
some acerbity. 

" D'Israeli," continued the other, relentlessly, '' tells 
of a fanatic who went out into the wilderness for 
seven years because he killed a small animal not 
usually mentioned in polite society. In the same 
paper, if my memory serves me rightly, he mentions 
a saint whose nether garments, being adorned with 
some extraordinary number of patches, were after his 
death preserved as an example to the faithful. Are 
these the sort of crazes you wish to imitate ? " 

'^ I believe I only asked whether you thought it a 
sin to kill anything," said young Moucell, loftily. 

** To which I must reply by another question : Do 
you eat meat ? " 

"Yes, but I do not feel sure that I am right." 

" Then why do you eat it ? " 

" Because I am not certain that I am wrong." 

" Suppose, then, you abandon the practice till you 
have settled your mind concerning it. For myself, 
Scripture and common sense are sufficient; but if you 
need a newer Scripture and a higher common sense 
than God has seen fit to give me, you must apply, not 
to a mere curate, but to some great dignitary of the 
Church — the Archbishop of Canterbury, for instance ; 
he lives quite near." 

Did He Deserve It? 213 

*' I see you cannot, or will not, understand," returned 
Philip, nettled by the answer, at which Edgar and 
Guy laughed . 

"I think I understand perfectly," said Mr. Mallow, 
with an amused significance there was no mistaking. 

Phil took this little check so much to heart that 
he felt no inclination to criticize postal arrangements 
severely, as he otherwise might have done ; in fact, 
owing to his whole mind being occupied with the idea 
of reprisal, St. Martin's-le-Grand seemed to him a thing 
of nought. 

Ignorant of the great projects absorbing his son's 
attention, Mr. Moucell imagined the sight of such a 
vast amount of human machinery working with 
automatic regularity was enthralling the youth. Little 
did he suspect that Philip was screwing up his imper- 
tinence to ask Mr. Mallow, at the first convenient 
opportunity, the proper mode of pronouncing 
'' strength " and " eighth," in which words that 
gentleman had as great a tendency to omit the " g " as 
Mrs. Howley to drop the first " r" in February. 

The young Moucells were nothing if not observant, 
and very soon they had, as they said, " spotted " 
every peculiarity of intonation and pronunciation 
which Mr. Mallow brought with him from the Emerald 

Philip, in especial, had long been yearning to broach 
this delicate subject, but a not unnatural doubt as to 
whether his unasked-for hint might be gratefully 
received had hitherto acted as a deterrent. 

Now, however, it was necessary to do something, 
and while toiling with his elders through the Post 
OflBce he quite decided to open fire with the two words 

214 Did He Deserve It? 

mentioned, which he most assuredly would have done 
but that something intervened. 

The presence of a stranger, as may readily be 
imagined, had somewhat interfered at South Lambeth 
Road with the weekly routine of house-cleaning; and 
it was for this reason Mrs. Howley and the faithful char- 
woman who acted as domestic sprite seized on that 
Friday afternoon, when the absence of what the sprite 
called " three male men " might be depended on, to 
give the basement sitting-room a " good turn out." 

Unhappily, the business occupied a longer time than 
was anticipated ; dirt accumulates and boards take 
long to dry in the winter; therefore, it came about 
that seven children partook not merely of an early 
tea in the dining-room, but also a banquet in 
honour of dear little Beaty's birthday was there set 


A gorgeous banquet ! Rosy-cheeked apples, mel- 
low pears, cake of two kinds, nuts, a trifle cunningly 
prepared without wine, negus so weak it never could 
have got out of any glass without help — all, all were 

Bonbons likewise, and lovely crackers, which pro- 
vided headgear and other articles of dress for everybody, 
besides mottoes provocative of merriment among the 
Httle ones. 

Mrs. Howley presided, and Joscelyne waited, and 
everything went so well that the passage of time was 
forgotten, and it proved quite a shock when Messrs. 
Moucell, Mallow, and Philip came back quite half an 
hour before they were expected. 

''HilloJ what is all this fuss about?" asked Mr. 
Moucell, entering in a capital humour, and seeing the 

Did He Deserve It? 215 

company adorned with caps of more or less hideous 

" Somebody's birthday, I think," said Mr. Mallow, 
who had in the forenoon contributed his modest gift 
to the pile raised on a side table. 

" Not yours, surely ! " exclaimed Mr. Moucell, as 
Beaty slipped off her chair and ran across the room 
to be taken up in her father's arms. " Oh, yes, I 
remember. And did my little girl like the work- 
basket I bought for her ? " 

Moist, clinging kisses were his little girl's only reply, 
though in her accustomed home circle she could 
talk as freely as any of the other children — a fact 
Mr. Mallow knew well. 

^' There is a good fire in the drawing-room," 
remarked Mrs. Howley. 

" I think we might stay here for a little while," 
suggested Mr. Moucell, turning towards Mr. Mallow, 
who answered, — 

" I should like to stay very much." 

'' Those pears look good," said Philip, ever practical 
when not argumentative ; and more plates and 
etceteras being brought, the wild carouse commenced 
anew, helped forward by the efficient assistance of 
three fresh guests. 

As for the Apostle, what with the delicious excite- 
ment of pulling crackers, the unwonted indulgence 
in a second small tumbler full of some harmless fluid 
well sweetened and just tinted with sherry, and above 
all, the maddening effects of general society, he quite 
lost his head, and not merely mide frantic sign s to 
Joscelyne with a view of explaining what he wanted, 
but at last stretched his small body half-way across 

2i6 Did He Deserve It? 

the festive board in a vain attempt to secure the fruit 
his soul longed for. 

*' Do not be rude, Paul ! " remonstrated his sister. 
" What is it — an apple ? I will give you one," which, 
indeed, she was in the act of doing, when Paul, who 
had set his greedy little heart on a particularly large 
and ruddy WeUington — not the smaller specimen his 
sister thought fit to select— called out in his sharp, 
eager voice, — 

*' Not that — not that ! This, you cursed young fool 
— ^you — " 

The effect of this awful sentence can only be de- 
scribed as akin to that produced on a nervous audience 
when the bullets are being cast in " Der Freyschutz." 
The apple — ever a source of discord — rolled, as if 
frightened, off the spoon Joscelyne was holding 
towards her brother ; Mrs. Howley gave vent to a 
smothered shriek ; Mr. Mallow looked resolutely at the 
tablecloth, and Philip said, not altogether sorrowfully, 
'' You've done it now," while Mr. MoucelPs dessert 
knife dropped on his plate with a great clatter. 

Then for a moment there ensued silence — a silence 
which might be felt. 

All at once it was broken. 

" Did I hear aright ? " Mr. Moucell asked the 
question. " Is it possible any child of mine used such 
expressions ? " 

" Oh, that's nothing ! " exclaimed Philip; '' it is as 
water unto wine compared with what he can do when 
he gives his whole mind to the business. Every day 
he hurls the most awful curses at us. Oaths may be 
said, in fact, to form the staple of his conversation. 
Mr. Mallow, the first morning after he came, was 

Did He Deserve It? 217 

treated to a fine specimen of profanity. Honestly, I 
am very glad he has for once forgotten himself before 
you, for we have long been sick of the business, and 
yet were forbidden to complain.'* 

" Yes, he's always telling us we are a set of 

idiots," put in Guy, eagerly ; " and when he is in one 

of his tantrums, hopes we'll go to and be 

well " 

" Hold your tongue, boy ! " said Mr. Moucell, 
appalled by the string of expletives Guy reeled out 
in all their original force and beauty. " Do you think 
this is the New Cut on a Saturday night, that you 
indulge in such language ? " 

'* It is only what Paul uses constantly. I was but 
repeating a very small part of his daily litany," declared 
Guy, with dogged insistance. 

Like one dazed, Mr. Moucell looked round the table, 
at the culprit, Mr. Mallow, the frightened youngsters, 
Philip, Edgar, Mrs. Howley, and Joscelyne, who sat 
listening, her hands clasped, her eyes downcast, her 
lips compressed, her cheeks pale as death. The hour 
had come. " Is this true ? '' he asked her. 

'' Yes, father— " 

*' And I never knew ! Leave the room, sir ! " he 
added, in a terrible voice, addressing the scared sinner, 
*' and do not come downstairs again till I give you 
leave. Do you hear me ? Take care I have not to 
speak twice." 

Mr. Mallow, had heard of people shrinking into 
themselves, but never before seen the process. At 
sound of his father's words, however, it seemed to him 
as if Paul literally got inside his lean body, while he 
slid from his chair and slunk to the door. 

2i8 Did He Deserve It? 

" Poor little chap ! " he exclaimed, involuntarily. 
" Poor little chap ! " repeated Mr. Moucell, almost 
wild with rage. " Yes, a poor little chap who will 
have to be taught better, and who shall ! Only to 
think of the deception which has been practised upon 
me ! Stay where you are, Joscelyne ! I forbid anyone 
to go after that wretched child ! " 

The pause which ensued was awful ; not a finger 
stirred, not an eye wandered. Mrs. Howley sat with 
her face buried in her handkerchief ; no one had ven- 
tured on the smallest remark. 

" Where he ever heard such expressions baffles me." 
It was Mr. Moucell who spoke when the strain had 
become intense. The remark was addressed to no 
person in particular, therefore anyone who pleased 
could appropriate it. 

" I can tell you," said Philip, always anxious to im- 
part disagreeable information. ^' It was through Jane. 
You may shake your head, aunt, but it was. She 
used to take him into low public-houses frequented 
by dreadful characters. You never would believe a 
word against the woman, but I have seen her myself 
standing on the kerb near Vauxhall cabstand, scream- 
ing with laughter at the unparliamentary language 
which is the ordinary discourse of such places, and — " 
''That will do," interrupted his father. "I have 
heard more than enough. We must try what a strict 
school can effect in the way of cure. Now you had 
better attend to whatever you have to do. Joscelyne, 
take these young people away. Remember, no 
sympathizing with Paul." 

Very quietly the eight trooped off. Concerning 
what conversation ensued among themselves when 

Did He Deserve It? 219 

they got out of earshot, history holds no record ; but 
the moment they left the room Mr. Moucell rose from 
his chair and began pacing from window to folding- 
door in a state of restless excitement. 

" No doubt it seems strange to you, Mr. Mallow," 
he said at last, suddenly pausing in the middle of his 
promenade, " that such things could be going on in a 
man's house, and he be left in utter ignorance of them, 
but it seems more strange to me than it can to you." 

" My only feeling is one of sorrow for all concerned," 
was the answer. " I am certain any concealment 
which may have been practised originated in a desire 
to spare you pain — " 

" Ah, yes, indeed," Mrs. Howley groaned. 

*' Still, you will admit it is very hard to have such a 
trouble sprung upon one without the smallest prepara- 
tion," observed Mr. Moucell. 

^' Very hard ; but it was sprung upon you acci- 
dentally, and I cannot regret that you have at last 
been enlightened." 

"It is better to know the worst, of course. Never- 
theless, the certainty that a cancer is eating him up 
proves but poor consolation to a man who flattered 
himself he had no disease. This cancer shall be cut 
away, no matter what the pain — it shall." 

Poor Mrs. Howley uttered a little plaintive cry, 
as if she already felt the knife, while Mr. Mallow 
said, — 

" As I remarked just now, Mr. Moucell, it seems to 
me well you are at last aware of the unfortunate 
habit your boy has contracted, but at the same time 
there is an observation I should like to make, if I may 
do so without being considered impertinent — namely. 

220 Did He Deserve It ? 

that it is a doctor rather than a schoolmaster the lad 
needs just now." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Precisely what I say. I have watched the little 
fellow very closely — when pleased, when angry, when 
playing, when quiet — and the conclusion has been 
forced upon me that — " 

*' Do not hesitate to speak — that ? — " 

*' His ungovernable and inexplicable fits of rage and 
terror, his laugh, the fatal facility with which he picks 
up bad language, all seem to point to — " 

" Good heavens, Mr. Mallow ! Do you wish me to 
understand that you think my son — deficient ? " 

" I wish to imply that whatever may be the matter, 
you would do wisely to consult some first-rate 
physician, to whom you should tell the whole 

Mr. Moucell tried to look incredulous, and failed. 

" Paul is far away the cleverest and sharpest of all 
my children," he expostulated. 

" He is very sharp." 

'* Therefore you must be mistaken. There is 
nothing wrong with him mentally. Think of what a 
bright little fellow he is." 

" And has always been," put in Mrs. Howley, tear- 
fully ; " a good, sweet child, and the image of his poor 

A few seconds elapsed before Mr. Moucell spoke 
again ; then he said, addressing his guest, " I am sure 
you will excuse my leaving you ; this unfortuate affair 
has rather upset me, and I should like to be alone for 
a little while before beginning work. Perhaps I had 
better say good -night at once," 

Bid He Deserve It? 221 

'' Good-night," echoed the Irishman, in a tone of 
profound sympathy. 

'' You see how badly he takes it," observed Mrs. 
Howley, directly the door closed behind Mr. Moucell. 
" I knew I was right in keeping the matter from 

" He does take it badly," agreed Mr. Mallow ; " but 
I do not think you were right." 

''But I am certain I was; and whatever made 
you say you thought the poor child was not all 
there ? " 

" Because I feel quite sure he is not, and that he 
ought to be treated medically." 

" I never could have believed you would speak so 

" I did not mean to be unkind, but I quite admit that 
perhaps I had better have held my peace." 

''You have seen how well the dear little fellow 
mimics people ? " 

" Yes, and thought it one of the saddest sights I 
ever beheld." 

" Oh ! law ! How can you say so ? And why ? " 

There was some more of this purposeless sort of 
conversation, which Joscelyne at last ended by coming 
to tell her aunt Mr. Moucell wanted her. 

" And I will go upstairs, if I may," said Mr. Mallow. 
" No further supper, thank you. I have had abundance 
to eat. Good-night, good-night." 

Poor Joscelyne's eyes were red with crying at that 
moment, but they were redder still when, after nearly 
an hour spent in the library, she wearily sought her 
own room. 

As she stepped over the threshold she saw a slip of 

222 Did He Deserve It? 

paper which had been pushed under the door. It was 
a Hne from Mr. Mallow, and ran as follows: — 

" Do not be uneasy concerning Paul. I found him 
hidden in my room, and will take good care of the 
child. May God bless and comfort you. — D. G .M." 


<^ I SAY ! " 

Mr. Mallow had almost finished dressing, and for 
the moment quite forgotten Master Paul, when these 
words fell on his ear. 

*' Yes, little man, what do you say ? " 

" Come round to this side and I'll tell you. Closer 
— stoop lower — whisper — " 

Wondering rather concerning the important com- 
munication which needed shrouding in such clouds of 
mystery, the curate sat down beside the boy, and bent 
his head, through which, an instant after, this rang 
like a pistol shot : — 

'' Are you going to marry our Jo ? " 

It was an awful shock — one which took Mr. Mallow 
utterly aback ; nevertheless, so soon as he could 
speak, he answered, — 

" What a silly fellow you are ! Why, I am nearly 
old enough to be your Jo's father ! " 

" Are you ! " in a tone of sore disappointment. 
" But can't you marry her ? " hope reviving. 

" I trust she will meet with a husband more 
worthy of her than I am," was the diplomatic 

'' I do not think so," piped the shrill, frail voice, 
" though aunt says there is a gentleman who likes 

224 Did He Deserve It? 

her very, very, very much. I don't know, Fm sure, 
but I heard Edgar and Guy talking one night, when 
they thought I was asleep. I wasn't, only lay 
quite still and pretended, so that I might Hsten to 
their secrets." 

" You young scamp ! What a confession ! " 
thought Mr. Mallow. 

" They keep me out of everything they can," 
went on the child. ** Still, I knew it was all about 
you and Jo. 'Gar said it would be prime, and Guy 
that it would be stunning, and they were just 
wondering whether father could do without Jo, 
when Randal turned over and they went ' H-u-s-s-h ! ' 
and I heard no more. But I have been thinking 
a great deal about it ever since, for I should like you 
to marry Jo, because then I could go and live with 
you. Won't you try, Mr. Mallow ? Perhaps you 
could do it if you tried very hard." 

Here was an entrancing proposition ; one so full 
of possibilities of bliss, that a man might have been 
excused for rushing away at headlong speed for a 
special license in order to secure the Apostle's 
permanent presence ; yet, highly as his sense of 
humour was tickled, Mr. Mallow felt too sad to even 


Instead, he talked very gently to the child, told 
him how wrong it was to deceive people, how 
indignant his brothers would feel if they knew he 
had been eavesdropping, how greatly it would hurt 
Joscelyne if she heard the many foolish things Paul 
said concerning her — things that, though mere 
nonsense, he ought never to have uttered — on which 
various statements and others the young gentleman 

Did He Deserve It? 225 

kept up a running commentary of " wasn't," 
^« wouldn't," '' didn't," " hadn't," " shouldn't," 
" couldn't," that as surely prefaced a storm as low 
claps of thunder. 

This Mr. Mallow knew well ; but being determined 
to have his say out, he held resolutely on, feeling 
Joscelyne's dignity was to a certain extent entrusted 
to his keeping, and determined to defend it so far as 
lay in his power. 

^' You might marry her if you liked," was the net 
outcome of his loyal efforts. " She'll be a whole year 
older next birthday." 

" So shall I," answered Mr. Mallow, much perplexed 
how to get out of the net Master Paul had wound 
about him. 

" You're like the rest of them," declared the^ boy, 
flinging himself on his back, and beginning that heel 
tattoo, which always foreboded ill. "You won't do 
anything to 'blige me — and as for that hateful young 


" Have you forgotten what happened last night ? " 
interrupted the curate sternly. 

'' Nothing happened last night," answered Paul 
mendaciously, suspending the tattoo, however, not- 
withstanding his affectation of ignorance. 

" I should advise you to refresh your memory," 
said Mr. Mallow. '* For your father intends to put 
a stop to your dreadful language." 

'' Can't, lanwidge is lovely." 

" When I found you in my room, did you not 
promise me faithfully that if I let you stay you would 
try to be a good boy ? Yes — or no." 

" Have been good boy." 

To which audacious statement of the unregenerate 


226 Did He Deserve It? 

Paul, Mr. Mallow replied, "You have been on the 
very verge of being an exceedingly bad one." 

" So have you — why won't you marry our Jo ? 
You could do it quite well ; and that is all I want." 

"Child, child, you do not know what you are 
saying ! " 

" Know very well," was the answer, which ended 
the conversation ; for without speaking another word 
Mr. Mallow rose, put on his coat, and left the 

There are times when even a small lad can so 
exhaust human patience that it is better to possess 
one's soul in silence, than to continue a profitless 
controversy. Whether in the enjoyment of his full 
complement of senses or deficient, Mr. Mallow felt 
Paul had proved more than a match for him, and 
determined he would meddle no more in what, after 
all, was none of his business. 

The Apostle raised himself on his elbow and looked 
after the retreating figure, evidently surprised ; but 
Mr. Mallow took no notice. He had his own affairs 
to think about, for he felt more disconcerted than he 
would have cared to confess by the idea Paul, in his 
frankness, had suggested. 

On the next landing he caught sight of Edgar, who 
was hovering about " in case of need " — to borrow 
a phrase from the banking world. 

He came running downstairs, when Mr. Mallow 
said " Good morning," and there was a look of 
anxiety in his face, as though he had been on the 
look-out for squally weather. 

"I think you might as well give your brother a 
helping hand," remarked the curate. " He is in my 
room, but has not yet risen." 

Did He Deserve It? 227 

" Jo told me he was with you, and that I had 
better stay near lest he should prove troublesome. 
I do hope he has been a good boy." 

"Yes, on the whole, though he was almost 'off' 
just now." 

" What shall we do if he gets into one of his 
tantrums this morning ? " 

" Surely you need not mind that now, when your 
father knows — " 

*'0h, but father is asleep! He worked late 

" You will have to face his being awakened one of 
these days," finished Mr. Mallow decidedly, though 
his heart overflowed with pity as he thought of the 
father always so busy, of the children who had been 
brought up in but one faith, viz. at all costs to keep 
annoyance from their parent. 

He felt greatly distressed. Was this indeed the 
literary career he had imagined so ideally beautiful ? 
Where could the happiness be in a life as far removed 
from cultured ease as from the spasmodic revelry of 
Bohemia ? No pause in that breathless walk with 
time ; always and ever either fishing or mending 
nets ; home a mere office in which to write, and an 
hotel in which to sleep ! Could this possibly be a 
fair sample of the existence literature demanded from 
its ordinary followers ? No blare of trumpets or 
music of flutes to relieve the march and speak of rest 
well won ! 

It was but the round of a horse in the mill, the lot 
of a hack harnessed and driven. Of a surety there 
could be no pleasure, though there might be some 
pecuniary profit in such an existence. 

To one hack, as he called himself, his children 

228 Did He Deserve It? 

were strangers ; he knew less of them than Mr. 
Mallow — a fortnight previously unaware of their 
existence ! 

"I think I will go down for Phil," said Edgar, 
finding their new friend did not offer to assist in 
Paul's subjugation, as he had hoped. " Father talked 
the matter over with him yesterday evening, and he 
is going to try what can be done." 

Mr. Mallow smiled grimly. Perhaps he was pro- 
jecting his mind into the future, and picturing the 
scenes sure to occur ; but again he made no proffer 
of help. The Apostle had so disenchanted him with 
the whole business that he went as far as the hall in 
careful silence, and there, nodding to Edgar, turned 
into the dining-room. 

All that morning he devoted ostensibly to writing 
letters and correcting proofs, but really to the con- 
sideration of how he should get out of what seemed 
an awkward position. The more he thought it over 
the less he liked it. No one approves of being given 
in marriage against his will, and Mr. Mallow had 
especial reason for objecting to any such disposition 
of his person. 

Mr. Moucell and he were due that afternoon at a 
semi-political gathering, for which Lady Fenland had 
contrived to procure them an invitation. Her lady- 
ship had ever privately lamented Mr. Moucell's 
mistaken marriage. " He would have been so much 
more amenable than Mr. Jones," " and not so rich," 
she might have added ; therefore when her liege 
mentioned the " wonderfully clever young clergyman, 
the coming genius," who was staying in leafy 
Lambeth, her thoughts naturally turned matrimonial- 

Did He Deserve It? 229 

ward to Joscelyne, and she rested not Hill cards were 
sent from the great house — an attention that 
delighted Mr. Moucell mightily. Over luncheon he 
told his guest it would be necessary for him to go 
out of town till Monday, which was a nicer way of 
putting things than if he had boldly stated he felt so 
utterly run down he meant to try what Brighton 
would do in the way of picking him up. 

*' You will manage to get through to-morrow with- 
out me, no doubt," he finished with an apologetic 
laugh. " I want you to go to the Foundling in the 
morning, and the boys I daresay will strike out 
something for the afternoon and evening." 

Mr. Mallow answered aloud he felt sure they 
would, and inwardly resolved to tell his host a short 
tale that afternoon as they wended their way west- 

"You have been so very kind to me ever since I 
came to London, and interested yourself so warmly 
in my poor book, that I feel emboldened to speak 
about a matter which may mean much happiness or 
— the reverse." Thus as they drove to Park Lane he 
began awkwardly enough, for he had never till that 
morning thought of taking Mr. Moucell into his 
confidence concerning affairs which were very private 

" T shall feel honoured by any trust you may 
repose in me," was Mr. Moucell's audible answer, 
while, " Can he be going to ask my consent already ? " 
flashed through his mind. Hope all the time fanning 
him with her wings like the deceitful jade she ever 
has been and ever will be. 

" It is just this — " but there Mr. Mallow hesitated, 

230 Did He Deserve It ? 

while hope fanned more vigorously than before ; 
certainly the preliminaries indicated a proposal. 

" Anything you desire to consult me about shall go 
no further," said Mr. Moucell. '' I will give you the 
best advice I can upon whatever subject may be 
perplexing you, and, if assistance be needed, help to 
the extent of my poor ability." 

It was beautifully done ; from the earnest uncon- 
sciousness of the speaker's tone there might have been 
no such things on earth as love, marriageable daughters, 
eligible suitors ! 

Mr. Mallow felt utterly ashamed of the thoughts 
that had been disturbing him, and found it more 
difficult than ever to make the final plunge. 

" Come," observed his companion banteringly, " out 
with it at whatever cost. Have you robbed a church 
or slain a man to your hurt ? " 

" No, I have not robbed, or slain a — man, but I am 
in love." 

" Then you have only followed an old fashion, and 
one that will not change while the world lasts — or at 
least while there are men and women in it," said 
Mr. Moucell drily. 

'' The lady has a father, however." 

" There is nothing new in that either ; all ladies 
have, or have had fathers — " 

'' But this father's ideas are peculiar — " 


" Of course, he knows all about my position — " 

" That I take for granted. Suppose you explain 
what the difficulty is ; then perhaps our joint wisdom 
may find a way out of it — " 

The difficulty proved one out of which Mr. Moucell, 

Did He Deserve It? 231 

at all events, never found his way, for it laid his card 
castle level with the dust. 

There was a certain Mr. Bellingdon of Moss Abbey, 
who attached perhaps undue importance to the world's 
applause. A great general, explorer, inventor, poli- 
tician — even author — seemed a person to be desired 
in his estimation ; though a country gentleman, a 
rector, a curate, could but be considered no one ! 
What his whole soul longed for in a son-in-law was 
celebrity, notoriety. He had married late in life, 
and did not mean his only daughter to wed any 
man who could not provide his age with the only 
condiment that made daily food savoury. 

Mr. Mallow loved the daughter, who loved him in 
return, and he trusted if " The Offences of His Fore- 
fathers " were well received that Mr. Bellingdon 
might smile on his suit. 

Joscelyne was not in the programme anywhere. 
So far as Mr. Moucell could then forecast, she would 
never be the wife of a bishop, " of a man favoured by 
the Fenlands," or of anybody in particular. 

And the misery he had passed through in the course 
of less than a fortnight who could tell ? He felt he 
had grown old, weary, hopeless, worn out ; that he 
hated Mr. Mallow — everyone. 

How much he enjoyed the gathering in Park Lane, 
the babble of politicians, and the profound remarks 
of Lord Fenland about nothing, may therefore 
be imagined. His pleasure certainly could not be 
described ! 


Mr. Moucell took away with him the fairly fine 
weather which had prevailed since his guest's arrival 
in London. It drizzled as the latter gentleman 
returned to South Lambeth in company with no 
one, it poured during the night, and rained heavily 
through the whole of Sunday. 

On that morning the mist on his window was so 
thick, Mr. Mallow, though he heard the noise of a 
passing train, could not see it ; while downstairs he 
found only a blurred and imperfect " Lawn " to con- 

The young male Moucells were keeping their 
father's absence as a high festival — in bed. 

It was only the knowledge Mr. Moucell was 
" about," or might be " expected," which kept things 
going in a regular manner in that house. 

The female influence, though kind as kind could 
be, seemed only productive of evil. For nearly 
nineteen years Mrs. Howley had virtually held the 
reins, and driven so very badly, spite of the best 
intentions, that Mr. Mallow believed a great smash 
must shortly ensue unless someone with a stronger 
hand climbed to the box-seat and guided the domestic 

Joscelyne was in the dining-room with dear little 

Did He Deserve It? 233 

Beaty, and shortly Mrs. Howley made her appearance 
— motherly, hospitable, unselfish as usual. 

" What a morning ! " she said. " I do hope it is 
not raining like this at Brighton. I am very sorry, 
Mr. Mallow, your last Sunday in London should be so 

" I have had two fine Sundays," answered the 
young Irishman, thankful for mercies vouchsafed. 

" Yes ; but what a pity this is bad." 

" I do not dislike rain." 

^' Nor I," interposed Joscelyne ; " the air always 
seems so fresh after it." 

" In summer, perhaps, but scarcely in November," 
said Mr. Mallow, accepting the statement as a sort of 
general proposition, though he had an uneasy 
feeling it was intended to apply to that especial day 
and the suggested expedition. 

His mind was made up, however, and those 
determined lines about his mouth had but told Mr. 
Moucell the bare truth. 

He was strong in everything he believed to be right, 
and never felt tempted to weakness save when 
influenced by the promptings of a most tender 

Breakfast passed over, enlivened by the extremely 
small talk Mrs. Howley loved. She was a woman who 
bore no malice, and, as nothing unpleasant had arisen 
out of the curate's unflattering estimate of Master 
Paul's mental powers, was ready to extend the right 
hand of fellowship once more. 

No one uttered a word concerning the Foundling 
Hospital, and Mr. Mallow was hoping he should be 
able to steal out without anybody being a bit the 

234 I^i^ He Deserve It ? 

wiser, when just as he had buttoned up his top-coat and 
was taking down his hat, Joscelyne made her 
appearance, equipped at all points — stout, neat boots, 
short skirts as usual, round hat, waterproof cloak, 
umbrella, everything. 

The curate stood aghast. '' Why, Miss Moucell," 
he said, " you surely do not think of going out in this 
weather ? " 

" Why not ? " she asked, calmly fastening her 
right glove. 

" It is pouring ! " he answered. 

'' I do not mind rain ; I like it — " 

" But this is such a downpour ! " 

" I shall take no harm — and father said I was to go 
with you to the Foundling." 

'* Your father, I am sure, never said you were to 
go anywhere in a second deluge." 

" I love rain." 

" But there should be reason in all things ; and I, 
for one, will not be an accessory to your committing 

*'0h, nonsense!" exclaimed the girl in a little 
burst of temper. " I mean to go, and that is all about 

** Then T shall stay at home." 

'' Do not be ridiculous ! If it be fit for you to 
venture out, it is fit for me." 

** I beg to differ ; and to put the matter perfectly 
plainly — though I feel it is most kind of you to pro- 
pose accompanying me on such a morning — I do not 
intend you shall." 

" This is really too absurd." 

" Absurd ! Just look how the rain is coming down," 

Did He Deserve It? 235 

and he flung the front door wide that she might see 
the pitiless torrent which swept dead leaves and bare 
twigs to the sodden earth. 

" Oh, that is nothing ; it will be over directly." 

" Your faith is greater than mine. Be advised, 
Miss Moucell, and either stay at home or go to a 
church near at hand." 

" If you can get to the Foundling, I can." 

" I am a man — which makes all the difference," said 
Mr. Mallow ; and as he spoke he again walked 
towards the open door, with the evident intention of 
marching straight away to his destination without 
further discussion. 

She was as quick as he, however, and reached the 
threshold just as he stepped across it. 

'* Mr. Mallow ! ' He was closing the door, but she 
had grasped the inner handle and held it against 

" My dear girl," he said, as if speaking to a child, 
** be reasonable ! " But she only pulled the more 

The whole thing was growing amusing, she looked 
such a bit of a thing to be trying her strength against 
his. After all, she was only a young creature, self- 
willed, like others of her family, but fresh as the 
dawn, utterly destitute of coquetry, innocent as a 
Httle child. 

The idea of love and marriage in connection with 
such a wild, untrained specimen of femininity seemed 
preposterous, and Mr. Mallow, who felt pleased at 
carrying his point so easily, began to regard their 
" tug of war " almost as a piece of fun, and peeped 
merrily round the door ere really trying to close it. 

236 Did He Deserve It? 

" Take care," he said, " I am going to give a 
great bang." And then something quite unexpected 

Whether it were the laughing mischief in his face, 
or a thought born before due time, or a shaft of 
understanding sent straight from Heaven for her 
enhghtenment, who can say? but in that second 
Joscelyne, bhnd before, became as one who saw and 
knew she loved and was not loved in return. 

Instantly her small hands relaxed their grasp, and 
the door closed with a tremendous noise. 

" She did that for a joke," thought Mr. Mallow ; 
and as he passed down the walk he glanced back 
to see if the girl were at any window gesticulating 
menacingly, or going through some other pantomime 
expressive of indignation. 

At that moment Joscelyne was standing where he 
had left her like one stricken. After a while she 
went slowly to her room and shut herself in. 

The rain was pouring down, and she watched it 
falling with sad, dreamy eyes. Once she had stood 
" where the brook and river meet " ; now she was 
across the river, and standing on the other side — 

In love women require no teacher ; nature tells 
them all — sometimes, indeed, more than all — they 
need to know ; and thus it came to pass that poor 
Joscelyne, who had so short a time previously put on 
her war-paint with happy anticipation, was wiser and 
more sorrowful as she looked out on the dripping 
cistern, than the united counsels of ten thousand 
matrons could have made her. 

She knew — and that was enough — knew the first 

Did He Deserve It? 237 

great trouble of her life had come without any 
seeking — knew before she ever saw Mr. Mallow that 
she loved him — knew for some sufficient reason he 
never could love her — knew he never could have 
loved her because, to use her aunt's graphic, though 
perhaps uncultured phrase^ " she was not his sort." 

" What ' sort ' would he like ? " she wondered in a 
tired, weary way. 

The dear young maiden ! Her sorrow seemed very 
grievous. Three weeks previously she had not even 
seen the man, and yet now her heart was well-nigh 
breaking because of him. 

She did not give way to any passion of weeping, as 
she had done when she read " The Offences of His 
Forefathers," for her wound was too deep for tears, 
while the shame she felt burnt like a consuming fire. 
Her only consolation lay in the idea her secret would 
for ever remain one between her heart and herself. 

She sat for a long time mentally wandering through 
depths of troubled thought ; but at last, recollecting 
she was still wearing her walking garments, rose to 
make some change in her dress ; and as she passed the 
cheval glass saw herself, probably for the first time, as 
she usually appeared to Mr. Mallow, when in the 
street — storm-tossed, dishevelled, too young by far for 
her years, which had stolen by unawares and left her 
looking, as far as attire went, much as she had done 
in her early teens. 

With a quick recoil she turned from the too truthful 
mirror, and, laying aside her hat, cloak, and frock, 
brushed out her splendid hair, and then gathered it 
into a great knot at the back of her shapely young 
head. This she did without the smallest thought of 

238 Did He Deserve It? 

making herself look more attractive, but just that she 
might appear older, neater, less like a " wild girl of the 
woods." Then putting on the longest gown she 
owned, she left her room to run the gauntlet she knew 
she would have to brave. 

" Why, I thought you were gone to the Found- 
ling ! " said Mrs. Howley in accents of amazement. 

" Too wet," was the short answer. 

" Hillo ! What's up ? " exclaimed Philip, walking 
round his sister to study the new effect. 

" Docked her mane at last, as I'm a sinner ! " 
declared Edgar. 

" Well, you do look a fright ! " was Guy's dis- 
passionate criticism. 

" Pity the 5th is past ! " remarked Randal, drawing 
upon recent memory for an illustration strong enough 
to express his scorn. 

" No effect can be produced without a cause," said 
Philip, making a telescope of his closed hand that he 
might survey the metamorphosis to greater advantage. 
" Alay I ask the reason, therefore, for this thusness ? " 

'^ Certainly you may," returned his sister with spirit. 
" I have long been weary of the senseless frivolity you 
all delight in, and I am determined, by taking my 
proper position, to try and put an end to it." 

"Therefore you have shovelled up your hair and 
made a guy of yourself? " 

" What does it matter how I look ? I would even 
wear caps if my doing so would induce you to talk 

" My dear Jo, you are evidently predestined to be 
an old maid." 

'' Better be an old maid than a young simpleton ! " 

Did He Deserve It? 239 

retorted Joscelyne, flouncing out of that lower room 
where the ram was first splashing down on the pave- 
ment and then bespattering the window. 

*' Takes it badly," observed Philip ; " evidently 
thinks our private chaplain ought to have remained at 
home to deliver a homily. I should greatly like, by- 
the-bye, to hear the Reverend Desmond Gerald preach. 
I'm sure his sermons are very fetching." 

'' So am I," agreed Mrs. Howley, who did not 
understand sarcasm in the least, and would not have 
understood, even had it been fired at her from the 
cannon's mouth. ^* I feel they must be beautiful." 

" Upon the whole," remarked Philip, addressing his 
brothers with mock gravity, " it is perhaps fortunate 
for us that Mr. Mallow seems unlikely to become a 
member of our family. Strange as the statement may 
sound, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. 
There were times when I yearned to greet him as my 
dear uncle ; but now I feel inclined to think things 
are better ordered." 

Edgar and Guy looked at each other, but said nothing. 
They had never taken Philip into confidence concern- 
ing a different alliance, because they well knew he 
would have thrown cold water on the idea, by 
observing, — 

" A Moucell really could not marry an Irish 
curate ! " 


Time did not stand still, and Wednesday evening 
arrived — the last of Mr. Mallow's stay at South 
Lambeth, for he had arranged to leave Euston on the 
following night. 

He and Joscelyne were alone in the pretty drawing- 
room, Mrs. Howley having, with her usual considera- 
tion, left them together for those purposes of love- 
making she never could get out of her kindly old 

They were not making love, however, only talking 
very sensibly concerning many things which the 
curate had never before given Joscelyne credit for 
thinking about. She seemed changed in some inscru- 
table way. He could not define the impression she 
made on his mind, but he felt there was more in her 
than he had imagined, and knew he should be her 
friend for life. He was taking a picture of the girl 
and the room, to hang on the wall of memory and 
look at when the sea divided them, and he did not 
feel so glad at the prospect of departure as he once 
imagined would be the case. Rather a sudden 
sadness stole over him, to divert which he at last 
asked her to sing. 

'' What shall I sing ? " she returned. 
"Anything — or rather something I can think of 
when far away." 

Did He Deserve It? 241 

It was a speech he had not intended to make, but 
one which sUpped out unawares, and he was vexed 
with himself for having uttered it. His words might 
have served for a preface to a love tale, and he had no 
tale of that sort to tell. 

Many a girl would have returned the remark with a 
chaffing retort or a conscious look, but Joscelyne 
took no notice whatever ; she only moved to the 
piano, and he did not see the crimson flush which 
flew to her cheeks and faded away as suddenly. 

" I found the other day an old hymn you may not 
have heard," she said, turning a little towards him 
and speaking quite steadily — poor Jo ! "I think you 
will hke it." 

" I am sure I shall," he answered. 

She struck a few wild, rugged chords, and then her 
young fresh voice began a covenanting hymn which 
in times of danger and trouble doubtless often in the 
old days floated across many a lonely moor and down 
many a desolate hillside. 

The air was almost uncouth, yet it suited the deep 
religious fervour of the words — the strong faith, the 
passionate trust which enabled men to face persecution 
and brave death in order to praise their Maker after 
the fashion they deemed right. 

A grand hymn rendered by a mere girl who had 
assimilated its spirit and poured out verse after verse 
till she reached the last line : 

" Return, O Lord of Hosts, return," 

into which she threw a depth of appeal, a certaipty of 

being answered that was wonderful in one so young. 

The final note had scarcely died into silence before 

the room seemed rent by a frightful noise combining 


242 Did He Deserve It ?• 

within itself the shriek of a steam whistle and the 
appalling din produced by a gong struck furiously. 

In an access of terror Joscelyne sprang from the 
music-stool and half-way across the room, where Mr. 
Mallow laid his hand reassuringly on her arm. 

" There is no harm done," he said ; *' but what 
could it have been ? " 

Even as he spoke Joscelyne, who had caught a 
stealthy movement, darted to the middle window, 
threw back the closely drawn curtains, and dragged 
forth the Apostle, wearing one of his aunt's old caps, a 
pair of spectacles, and a small red and black check 
shawl. Anything funnier than he looked, thus decked, 
it would be difficult to imagine ; but the sight did not 
excite his sister's mirth, quite the contrary. 

*' You dreadful child ! " she said. " You wretched, 
good-for-nothing little imp ! How dare you do such 
a thing ? Go downstairs this moment ! " and shaking 
him as if she meant to pull his arm off, she hustled 
her brother to the door and pushed him outside. 

It was too much. Flesh and blood could not resist 
the contrast between that covenanting hymn and 
the Apostle — between Joscelyne's devout earnestness 
and her swift lapse from grace — therefore Mr. Mallow 
laughed unrestrainedly, while Paul on the landing 
produced another ear-splitting note out of the 
fiendish instrument he carried. 

"You will think there is a great deal of human 
nature in this house," said Joscelyne at last. 

"I like human nature," answered the curate, 
trying to speak gravely. 

'' I am very sorry," went on the girl, " but I could 
not help it ; I was so frightened." 

Did He Desevre It ? 243 

"Sit down," said Mr. Mallow, drawing a chair 
towards her. '' Why, you are still trembling. What 
can I get for you ? " 

'' I shall be better in a minute, thank you. It was 
only — only — Oh, I wish I had not shaken Paul as I did." 

" And I wish your father had been here to shake 
him instead." 

" It is not his fault ; it is the boys ; they get him to 
do all sorts of things, and then they laugh. They are 
so silly." 

"I laughed, and I am afraid if similarly tried I 
should laugh again. It was such a sudden drop from 
the stern grandeur of that hymn to Paul's buffoonery. 
By-the-bye, where did you get such a noble psalm of 
prayer and praise ? " 

" From a young Scotch doctor who is now dead. 
He did not like to hear it sung to Mornington's chant, 
so sat down one evening and wrote an air that suited 
the words better." 

There ensued an awkward pause. Perhaps both 
were thinking of the old-world hymn ; more probably 
of something quite different. 

" Miss Moucell, when will you and your father be 
coming to Ireland ? " inquired Mr. Mallow at last, 
breaking the spell and bringing Joscelyne back with a 
start to every-day life and the doings thereof. 

'* Never," she answered. '' Father cannot make 
time to go anywhere." 

*' But when he takes his holiday." 

" He does not take holiday, except just now and 
again, when he goes to Brighton or some other such 
place for a night or two. Even then he always 
combines business with pleasure." 

R 2 

244 Did He Deserve It? 

'' Surely you do not mean me to understand that 
statement literally ? " 

" I do indeed ; no one can imagine how hard he 

" I can, and for that very reason should have 
supposed at least a month's change each year necessary 
even for health." 

Joscelyne shook her head. " Father never gives 
himself any real holiday ; says he finds rest and 
recreation in change of work. Besides, he likes being 
in London when other people are out of it." 

" I think I should be of the same mind ; neverthe- 
less I am sure he would like a run through Ireland 
also, in fact, he told me long ago he should enjoy 
seeing Donegal and Killarney, the Causeway and 
Wicklow immensely." 

" I have no doubt of that — just as he would enjoy 
having ten thousand a year, and nothing to do, or any 
other trifle which can be had for the wishing." 

Mr. Mallow had previously noticed the girl's knack 
of occasionally repeating her father's ideas, so this 
little spurt of cynical impatience did not disconcert 

" Pending the arrival of that ten thousand a year, 
and period of elegant leisure which, with all my heart, 
I hope may come to him ere long," he said, " could 
not you manage a visit ? My mother, I know, would 
be delighted to make your personal acquaintance ; 
and Dublin, though not like London, is well worth 

Again Joscelyne shook her head. *' I never go 
anywhere," she said — " that is, for more than part of 
a day." 

Did He Deserve It ? 245 

" Not on visits to friends ? " astonished. 

" No ; it is years and years since I have been out of 
town. The last time I went was when I was quite a 
Httle girl to Hastings with my mother. I have never 
forofotten the sea, nor how sad it seemed. I dream of 
it sometimes still." 

"My mother must persuade you to visit her," 
said Mr. Mallow, after a slight pause. " I do not 
think you would find Dublin or Rosstrevor Bay, sad, 
or anything but bright in the sunshine and grand in 
the storm. Ireland really is most beautiful ; not 
about Kilbrannon, perhaps, but all round the coast. 
Selfishly, I do wish you would come, for I want you 
and the dearest friend I have in the world to know 
each other." 

" Who is she ? " asked Joscelyne. 

A week previously the question would have been 
" Who is he ? " but ah ! what had the girl not learned 
within the space of four days ? 

" Her name is Grace Bellingdon," was the answer. 
*' I have told her about your goodness to me, and in 
a letter I received this morning she says she hopes to 
meet you some happy day. I am sure you would 
Hke her ; she is the sweetest creature imaginable." 

'' I should love to see her," said Joscelyne quite 

"It would be pleasant for you to have a young 
woman friend," went on Mr. Mallow, unconscious 
how his words stabbed. 

There was one secret which no woman friend 
might ever have confided to her by the girl, who 
inquired, — 

" Is she- older than I am ? " 

2:\6 Did He Deserve It? 

'' Yes, nearly nine years ; and I have known her 
since she was sixteen." 

Known her ever since Joscelyne was between seven 
and eight ! 

"And — " said the girl softly, with a meaning smile. 

" Your guess is right, Miss Moucell, I have loved 
her all that time. You will forgive me for telling you 
this, for troubling you with my affairs, but I do so 
want you and Grace to be friends." 

" I shall be her friend," was the repty, though 
Joscelyne felt as though something were crushing 

This was the love-making for which Mrs. Howley 
had left the way clear, and through it there seemed 
ringing some lines of that covenanting hymn, 
the end of which Paul had greeted with such a din of 

What a tangle life appeared at that moment to one 
of the twain. 

And save for his book they would never have met. 
Had they not met, she could never have loved him so 
much. It was but the burden of an old ballad 
repeated, for the sorrows of to-day are only the sorrows 
of past centuries played by fresh actors new to the 
boards, as the former actors were once. 

Then Mr. Mallow, finding the girl so sweetly 
sympathetic, told her the whole story, which, after 
all was not exciting, and Joscelyne listened like one in 
a dream. 

No. She never could have been anything to him ; 
she felt that very certainly. Each word he spoke 
separated them further and further ; and when at 
last he produced a little case and asked if she would 

Did He Deserve It? 247 

care to look at the photograph it contained, she was 
able to stretch out a hand which did not tremble, and 
gaze with eyes undimmed by tears at the likeness of 
the woman Desmond Mallow loved best on earth. 

*' Oh ! what a lovely face ! " she exclaimed involun- 

" It is not more lovely than her nature," he said, 
deeply gratified. 

For a few minutes Joscelyne sat dumb, lost in 
thought. Before her was the heroine of Mr. Mallow's 
book, the woman who, when from afar she beheld the 
torch-lit pandemonium, that assemblage of fiends 
deprecated by Mr. Moucell, sank on her knees and 
prayed for those who had hounded Woyle of Fin- 
carrow to his death. 

She could not doubt for a moment. She understood 
the book and its author better then than she had 
ever done, though the knowledge set them still wider 
apart. There was a gulf fixed between the sunshiny 
land in which her pleasure-loving temperament would 
have liked to dwell, and the gloomy regions where he 
searched after those sources of evil, man is not 
permitted to discover here ; a gulf on the verge of 
which she stood peering across the deep waters 
dividing her from him. 

^' That is not the likeness of a woman, surely," she 
at last said, gently closing the case and giving it 
back into his keeping, '' but of some sweet saint in 
heaven ? " 

" Thank you." Mr. Mallow made no longer answer, 
for he could not. Joscelyne' s impulsive remark was, 
he thought, the prettiest compliment ever paid by 
one woman to another ; but it filled him with a 

248 Did He Deserve It ? 

strange emotion, and struck some deep chord in his 
nature, from which he had never thought the girl's 
light touch could evoke a sound. 

At that very moment Mr. Moucell, having let 
himself in quietly as usual, was standing at the foot of 
the stairs, where his progress had been arrested by 
Mrs. Howley. 

'' Don't go into the drawing-room just yet," she 

" Why not ? " asked Mr. Moucell. 

"Because Mr. Mallow and Joscelyne are there." 

^' And what then ? " 

The lady answered nothing, but looked wise, which 
so provoked her " dear niece's husband," that he broke 
out in a quite unusual manner. 

" What rubbish ! I do wish you could realize that 
struggling men have something else to think about 
than love and marriage ; and as for Joscelyne, I do 
hope that no daughter of mine will ever throw herself 
away on a poor curate." 

His tone was so irate that Mrs. Howley instantly 
collapsed, and retreated into the dining-room. 

What could have happened ? A week previously 
she knew her hints had been differently received — not 
with absolute approval, perhaps, but certainly with 
indulgence. It was very odd ! 

Meantime Mr. Moucell went upstairs, opened the 
drawing-room door, and found Joscelyne seated on a 
low chair near one of the windows, and Mr. Mallow 
standing beside the hearth. 

" Oh, there you are ! " he exclaimed. " Just as I 
was coming in I met a lad with a parcel for you. 
Gerants told me this afternoon they hoped to send 

Did He Deserve It? 249 

you the finish by mid-day to-morrow, and trust you 
will be able to let them have all proofs back before you 
leave. No doubt you would like to get to work at 
once," and so saying he laid a good-sized package on 
the table, which Mr. Mallow at once proceeded to 

How many things and persons he had seen since 
in that very room he, a proud and happy author, sat 
down to correct the first sheets of " The Offences of 
His Forefathers " ! 


Twenty-four hours later Mr. Mallow was on his way 
to Holyhead, all proofs having long previously been 
despatched to the printers. 

Courteous at the end as at the beginning, Mr. 
Moucell sped the parting guest. 

He accompanied him to Euston, saw him safely en- 
sconced in a comfortable compartment, corner seat, 
back to the engine, listened with a deprecating smile 
to his heart-felt thanks, said farewell as if he had been 
the dearest friend earth held, observed all the cere- 
monial usual on such occasions — handshaking, head- 
nodding, hat-raising, hand-waving, &c. — and then, as 
the train bore the traveller out of sight, murmured 
*' Thank Heaven," very strongly worded, and left the 
station with a keen sense of relief. 

No one, indeed, save John Moucell himself, knew 
the amount of discomfort that gentleman had ex- 
perienced during the past eighteen days. 

For years accustomed to utter domestic liberty, the 
mere fact of having to accommodate his habits in any 
way to the requirements of another person must under 
the most favourable circumstances have proved irksome, 
and when it is remembered that all the circumstances 
had been especially unfavourable, the result produced 
may be vaguely imagined. 

Did He Deserve It? 251 

'' Never again," he decided ; ** never, will I ask 
man or woman to my house on a visit. The thing 
might be tolerable enough for a day, but to go to bed 
at night with the knowledge that the nuisance must 
again be faced on the morrow — indeed on many 
morrows — is more than working flesh and blood can 
stand," and feeling very sorry for himself, Mr. Moucell 
hurried on in a rare bad temper, till suddenly re- 
membering that Bloomsbury Square was not far 
distant, he decided to call on Mr. Blackshaw, who 
by reason of his recalcitrant liver, seldom dined 
out, and could therefore generally be seen of an 

He warmly welcomed Mr. Moucell, who, he said, 
had lately been " quite a stranger." 

" Well, I have been somewhat tied," explained the 
other ; '' but Mr. Mallow has gone now — went by the 
mail train to-night. I have just come from the 
station, and thought I would look in." 

*' Mallow," repeated Mr. Blackshaw, " that is the 
young clergyman you brought here to dinner. Clara 
tells me he is sure to make a great success." 

" So the Messrs. Gerant say." 

'' And what do you say ? " 

" Never prophesy unless you know," returned Mr. 
Moucell with a laugh. " I think he ought ; he is very 

" How sorry T am Clara is not at home ; she does so 
enjoy a talk with you," which was quite true. Clara 
did enjoy a talk with Mr. Moucell immensely ! 

'' I shall be in the neighbourhood again some after- 
noon ere long, and will then venture to ask her for a 
cup of tea." 

252 Did He Deserve It? 

*' Do — and let her know, if possible, when she may 
expect you. It would grieve her very much to be 
out," after which pleasant preliminaries the pair 
settled down to an exhaustive discussion on the well- 
worn theme of Mr. Blackshaw's digestion, in the 
course of which Mr. Moucell covered himself with 
glory by starting the theory that doctors were totally 
wrong in their mode of treating that refractory 

"I scarcely follow you," said Mr. Blackshaw. 

*' In other words, they seem to regard the stomach 
as a master instead of a servant." 

" Mine has long been my master," groaned the 

''No one can doubt that fact ; and it will con- 
tinue to dictate terms so long as you concede them." 

"But what am I to do? Unless I diet myself 
strictly, I suffer agonies — " 

" Exactly ; and so you have given up one pleasant 
food after another. May I ask whether you feel any 
the better for all your sacrifices ? " 

" No ; but my doctor tells me I should have felt 
much worse had I eaten and drunk like happier 

" H — m — that is as it may be ; meanwhile you are 
getting down to the straw a day. When the straw 
is reached, what will happen ? " 

" God knows," in a tone of blank despair. 

" Yes, God knows — and the doctor ought to know ; 
but still he persists in his absurd idea that a weak 
stomach can be made strong by fasting, whereas it 
needs to be brought back to health by judicious 

Did He Deserve It? 253 

Mr. Blackshaw seemed greatly impressed by this 
utterance. In truth the man was longing for food 
which he feared to take. 

'^ What I should do in your place," continued Mr. 
Moucell, pushing his advantage, " would be to try 
whether I could not, by proper management, induce 
that poor digestion to at least make an attempt to 
perform its work. I iwould begin with even a tea- 
spoonful — half a teaspoonful — fifteen drops — of wine 
a day, and see what happened. If nothing happened, 
the dose might be gradually increased. The same with 
food. I should try some turtle soup, and take it in 
very small quantities. Of course, I am not a doctor, 
and know little or nothing about man's internal 
economy ; but common sense is common sense ; and 
there is neither rhyme nor reason in humouring the 
fads of any organ till it becomes unable to do the work 
it was intended to perform." 

" Upon my word, I think I will follow your advice. 
I wonder why no one ever suggested turtle soup 

" Most probably because it is the obvious thing in 
cases of extreme debility. Many persons can see 
objects at a distance much more clearly than those 
close at hand. Now I really must run away." 

"Not yet," pleaded Mr. Blackshaw; "we see so 
little of you." 

But Mr. Moucell was as adamant. He had work to 
do, letters to write — matters had perforce been some- 
what neglected of late ; he must try and make up for 
lost time. " I shall endeavour to call again next 
week, all being well," he added, however, " if only 
to hear whether you have taken my prescription." 

254 Did He Deserve It? 

"That I certainly shall," answered Mr. Black- 
shaw, in the tone of a man who meant what he 

" Don't overdo it, though ; at first very, very small 
doses," and Mr. Moucell left, thinking even as the 
front door closed behind him, — 

" What a world it is, in which some are miserable 
because they cannot digest their food, and some are at 
their wit's end because they cannot get food to 

The conceit pleased him, and he walked on in better 
spirits, though anxious enough, and with sufficient 
cause to be anxious, for the worst time of the whole 
year in Avhich to run short of money was within 
measurable distance, and Mr. Moucell knew no source 
from whence a glut could possibly arrive. 

In the first thankfulness at being delivered out of 
the hands of Messrs. Michael, Gabriel, and Co., 
Christmas, with bills and boxes, and many outgoings 
and tardy incomings, had seemed a long way off, 
and now publishing London was in the thick of it. 

Time skims by on lightsome wing when many could 
wish the old enemy to saunter slowly, as though shod 
with lead, and consequently all of a sudden towards 
the close of that, to him, memorable November, Mr. 
Moucell, whose pecuniary battle was never an easy 
one, found it necessary to consider much more than he 
liked, how it would be possible to make up the deficit 
caused by Her Majesty's peremptory summons to a 
formal reception, not held at Windsor, or Buckingham 
Palace either ! 

It was not merely the fifty pounds scraped so hardly 
together that he had to make up, but the doors in Old 

Did He Deserve It? 255 

Bond Street were closed for the time being by Mr. 
Isaac Gerant's cheque, and he could scarcely ask for 
them to be reopened. 

He had, moreover, lost valuable time, which 
meant money, and taken a great deal out of himself 
while searching and waiting for sufficient to satisfy 
those " bloodhounds called solicitors," therefore, after 
only a very few days' respite, he found it necessary 
to put his shoulder to the pecuniary wheel once 

*' Bad luck came with that fellow," he said. "I 
hope it has gone with him," which really was unjust 
towards Mr. Mallow, since he did not bring a sheaf of 
misfortunes for Mr. Moucell among his personal 

Nevertheless, he had disappointed him bitterly ; kept 
that cheque in his pocket instead of entrusting it to 
very careful hands ; rendered vain all his plans of 
conquering the world with a new ally ; turned the 
invitations obtained for an ulterior purpose into the 
most useless of useless civilities. 

The Apostle could have lent him words sufficient 
to give expression to the feelings which boiled within 
Mr. Moucell's breast when he recalled how he had 
striven, what he had compassed, and the result ; but 
bad language never having found a place in his 
vocabulary, he failed to give audible expression to 
his anger — which perhaps was a pity. 

All he said when entering his gate at South 
Lambeth was merely a repetition of his thanksgiving 
while leaving Euston, ^' Thank God, my time is my 
own again," thus signifying it had been temporarily 
in possession of Mr. Mallow. 


256 Did He Deserve It? 

Though that gentleman had certainly not been 
boisterous, the house seemed strangely quiet without 
him, and a pang shot through Mr. Moucell's heart as 
he considered for the thousandth time what they 
might have compassed together, he with his connection, 
Mr. Mallow with youth, talent, respectable lineage — 
things now all wasted, Irish-like, on some vague *' she " 
in the Isle of Saints. 

Mr. Moucell felt just in the mood for writing a Httle 
paper on " The Disappointments of Life," after 
completing which he went to bed very tired — so 
tired that he did not dream a dream the whole night 

It was fortunate he had that sound night's rest, for 
the next day did not open well. The post brought no 
pleasant letter — quite the contrary — no cheque, no 
order — nothing but disagreeable reminders and a 
rejected manuscript. Now, this last was a misfortune 
which had not befallen him for long years. " I was 
an idiot to send it there," he muttered ; '' to send 
anything anywhere on chance — " and he unfolded 
the despised essay and looked at it ruefully. 

Lady Fenland had once likened him to Lamb, and 
the paper in question resembled Elia as much as a 
poor copy can a brilliant original. From his book- 
shelves he took down a volume, read a page, and then 
glanced at his own article. What was there in Lamb 
he lacked ? By what alchemy had that man trans- 
muted the meanest thing into gold ? Ever since the 
night when Mr. Moucell appraised the value of his 
own wares as he might those of another, he had enter- 
tained no illusions, still this rejection gave him a shock, 
for it is one matter to know the goods you offer are 

Did He Deserve It? 257 

but shoddy, and another to find that beHef shared by 
those who hold the purse. 

There was yet a further letter from an editor who 
had always been his friend, which, feeling sure its con- 
tents could not be but pleasant, Mr. Moucell kept as a 
bonne bouche. When he opened it, however, he found 
the worst news of all. 

The kindly, old-fashioned creature who always took 
such contributions as Mr. Moucell cared to send was 
leaving, and another man who " knew not Joseph," 
and did not want to know him, was succeeding to his 

Verily that morning all things seemed awry ! 

Though certainly far from being a Christian, Mr. 
Moucell was not irreligious ; but in times of trouble 
his faith took the form of fear. 

"Ill luck," he decided, " had come with Mr. Mallow 
and meant to stay ; " and even as he arrived at this 
conclusion Philip entered the room. 

" I have to tell you, sir," he said, "that I can do 
nothing with Paul. Either he can't be taught or he 
won't learn — " 

" Nonsense ! " exclaimed the Apostle's father. 

"It is a fact," was the reply. "I don't believe he 
has his fall complement of brains ; and as for bad 
language, I doubt if it could ever be thrashed out of 
the brat. I have tried to teach him the multiplication 
table, and we are just as far forward as we were the 
first day. In my opinion, it is of no use wasting any 
more time over the matter." 

" And in my opinion you are tired of the task you 
were so anxious to undertake. Go away now, or I 
may say something unpleasant. I should like to know 


258 Did He Deserve It? 

what was the use of giving you an expensive education, 
if it cannot help you to instruct that poor deHcate 
child " — who at the identical minute was kicking the 
heels out of his shoes ! 


Circumstances over which Messrs. Gerant had no 
control delayed the publication of Mr. Mallow's book 
till early in the second week in December, but then 
hindered by a mass of Christmas literature, almost 
swamped by gift books, magazines, and special 
numbers, " The Offences of His Forefathers " began 
its slow voyage across the uncertain sea of public 
opinion to success. 

On the day it appeared Lady Fenland sent her foot- 
man, Mr. Blackshaw his butler, and Mrs. Eldon Gannox 
her husband to buy a copy. 

Lady Patricia, who had a frugal mind, as befitted 
the wife of a very rich man, felt she did her duty by 
requesting Mudie to let her have the work at once. 
With an eye to quotations the M.P. did likewise, and 
to a certain extent more humble folk followed suit. 
Still it was not a " reading " time of the year, even for 
novels by well-known authors, and the subscription 
proved small. 

Mr. Moucell knew this, and inwardly rejoiced, the 
while he professed to be sorry. 

" Why you elected to bring the book out just before 
the festive season baffles me," he said to Mr. Thomas 
Gerant. "You have not given the thing a fair 
chance. But there — no doubt you know your own 
business best." 

S 2 

26o Did He Deserve It? 

''I think I do," returned the managing partner 
quietly. He was very nasty in those days, Mr. Moucell 
considered ; so nasty, that gentleman longed to do 
him an injury. 

Of course, the cause was jealousy, and one word 
from Joscelyne's father would have put matters right ; 
but Mr. Moucell declined to speak that word ; rather, 
he enjoyed Mr. Gerant's discomfiture ; for although 
a " mere curate with possibilities " had not seemed a 
match to despise, his Norman blood revolted against 
the suit of a " mere tradesman," which was a hard 
phrase to use concerning anyone who came of such an 
old and honourable business stock as the Gerants. 

Fact was, his doubtful intimacy with great folk had 
turned Mr. Moucell's head. 

In youth family pride — particularly if there be 
nothing to feel especially proud of — is something to 
smile at ; but in middle age it is apt to become a 
mania, and poor Mr. Moucell, after years of work and 
disappointment, had gone crazy on the subject of his 
ancestors, who might have been French peasants for 
all he knew about them. 

Ordinary individuals — nay, Lady Fenland herself — 
would have thought well-to-do Mr. Gerant rather a 
" catch " for Joscelyne ; but her father's ideas were 
different, therefore he said nothing about Miss 
Bellingdon ; rather he nursed fury in his soul against 
Mr. Mallow and the unhappy publisher who was 
trying to push " The Offences of His Forefathers " — 
yes, and intended that the book should be a success. 

Meanwhile, true to the traditions of his craft, Mr. 
Gerant was depressing the author. He wrote him the 
exact truth ; but truth seems quite a different thing 

Did He Deserve It? 261 

when read in cold blood far away from the scene of 
action, than when heard spoken by a kindly voice in 
the midst of bustle and excitement. 

Mr. Gerant stated that he had printed a very small 
first edition ; that so far the reviews were guarded, 
though not unfavourable ; that as yet the novel had 
not produced an impression. 

Nevertheless, he intended pushing it, but should not 
do so till after the beginning of the New Year ; at the 
worst he hoped to recoup the loss, if loss ensued, out 
of Mr. Mallow's next work, which he trusted would 
have a brighter ending. People complained of the 
gloom which pervaded the story of Woyle of Fin- 

All of which, scanned by a man living in a lonely 
rectory in a damp, depressing part of Ireland, did 
not serve to raise Mr. Mallow's spirits, although he 
knew the printed book had done a good deal for 

Mr. Bellingdon thought well of it. The reviews, 
such as they were, gratified that gentleman immensely, 
and, as Miss Bellingdon wrote to Joscelyne, things 
were going happily. Quite a brisk correspondence 
between the two girls had begun after Mr. Mallow's 
return to Ireland. 

The letters which came to South Lambeth were 
such as a loving elder sister might have written to a 
younger. Sweet Grace Bellingdon had '' taken " to 
Joscelyne, and sent her really charming epistles, 
possibly because she delighted to speak of Desmond 
Mallow, possibly because her kindly heart went 
out to the young thing who she felt must be very 

262 Did He Deserve It ? 

" I want so much to meet you face to face," she 
wrote in one letter, to which Joscelyne repUed in good 
faith : *' And I so much want to meet you^ 

It was Miss Bellingdon who sent to the girl a copy 
of Mr. Mallow's novel, with some graceful words 
written in it by the author. No one in her home 
ever saw that book save Joscelyne ; it was too sacred ; 
but she poured out her very soul in admiration of it 
to the woman greatly beloved. 

Poor child ; her affection for the man had never 
been a grand passion ; she was too guilelessly innocent 
for that ; so she could write concerning him to the 
woman he hoped one day to call wife, without a 
thought the angels might not have approved. 

She was all the more glad just then to have this new 
pleasure in her life, because there was but little 
pleasure in her home. 

Never before had anyone known Mr. Moucell so 
hard to satisfy. Nothing anyone did was right ; money 
was conspicuous by its absence ; duns well in evi- 
dence ; Mrs. Howley often in tears ; household matters 
anyhow ; the younger children told they must con- 
tent themselves with such fare as was placed before 
them, and the elder informed matters were " difficult." 
That was a bad Christmas for the family. They had 
the orthodox dinner, of course — turkeys and game, 
sent by Mr. Mallow, the roast beef of old England, and 
pudding well alight — but merriment there was none, 
" Just like a wet Sunday," said Philip. Mr. Moucell 
carved the festive dinner with a face like an under- 
taker. He had never been so short of petty cash, for 
years at all events ; and the establishment generally 
felt as if a very wet blanket hung over it. 

Did He Deserve It? 263 

" I have never seen your dear father so utterly cast 
down before," Mrs. Howley told Joscelyne, for with 
creditors coming to the house and insisting on pay- 
ment, it was impossible to keep the girl in ignorance 
of what they wanted. " He had to make up a large 
sum in November, and that of course keeps us short 

" We must not spend a penny we can help, then," 
answered Joscelyne, and forthwith she relinquished 
such small luxuries as sugar and butter, which certainly 
did not effect any enormous saving, but proved her 
intentions were good. 

Also she took to sewing very diligently, and kept 
her father's study in order more sedulously than ever ; 
with the New Year things got slightly easier, but Mr. 
Moucell's spirits did not rebound as they had been 
wont to do. 

His recent experiences seemed terrible to him — a 
warning of what might come and remain. 

After such a check a man could not well go on living 
from hand to mouth without asking himself : " If the 
hand stopped, what would happen ? " Hitherto the 
hand had not stopped ; but late events showed exactly 
how suddenly a catastrophe might occur. No disaster, 
no loss of income, brings the conviction of impending 
trouble so home to a man as the want of ready money 
in his pocket ; and for weeks previously the drain 
had been so constant and the supplies so intermittent, 
that Mr. Moucell found himself at times almost with- 
out sixpence — a state of affairs which compelled 

If it be difficult to rejoice with those who rejoice 
when our world is going smoothly, it is more difficult 

264 Did He Deserve It ? 

still when affairs are out of gear ; and Mr. Moucell 
certainly felt no pleasure when Joscelyne asked him 
one morning if he had seen a second edition announced 
of Mr. Mallow's book. 

" No. Is it really ? " he answered, but he could not 
make his tone as genial as he wished. 

The girl, however, was so full of what she thought 
very good news, that his constraint passed unnoticed. 

" Here is the advertisement," she went on, her face 
bright with happiness ; " there are several capital 
Press notices quoted also. I suppose that means the 
novel is selling well." 

" We must hope so. It did not at first. The time 
was unfavourable." 

" Ah ; that does not much matter. It is evidently 
going now. I am so glad ! " 

Mr. Moucell said he was very glad too. He had 
quite regained his self-possession, and felt able to speak 
of another man's success as if it had been his own ; 
nevertheless, no one could have measured the extent 
of his anger and mortification when he found that 
detested book by that hateful curate was really making 
its way, while he stood outside in the cold. 

He had on the previous dayimet Mr. Thomas Gerant, 
who said nothing about the second edition. And it 
was Mr. John Moucell who had boomed the wretched 
thing, gone over it in manuscript, read it in proof, 
corrected and revised it ! Among the notices lurked 
one Joscelyne had overlooked, viz. an extract from 
a speech of -Seymour Hardisty, Esq., M.P. for Great 
Thundersley, who seemed to have quoted at length 
from the novel, which he advised all interested in the 
Irish question to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. 

Did He Deserve It? 265 

" And it was I who introduced Seymour Hardisty, 
Esq., to our clever young friend ! Wait a little, Mr. 
Thomas Gerant ; wait a little, Mr. Mallow, and perhaps 
you may both wish you had considered me ! " This 
and much more to the same effect passed through Mr. 
Moucell's mind. He could have written many essays 
on Ingratitude had anyone wanted them, for he felt 
the matter very strongly ; but as it was impossible 
to compose his mind in that way, he went out, and 
when he returned he felt a happier, though not a 
better man. 

A few evenings later there was an irritable cry for 

" Who has been meddHng with my books ? " Mr. 
Moucell asked when his daughter appeared. 

" I have not, father," answered the girl. " What is 
it you want ? " 

" * The Offences of His Forefathers,' which I left on 
the shelf, and—" 

*' Perhaps Philip has been reading it. I heard him 
say he would like to do so." 

'* And I should like him to know I will not have any 
volume taken without my permission." 

'' What's wrong with the governor now ? " asked 
Phil, when his sister went in quest of the required 
book. " Oh ! Mallow's treatise, is it ? I can guess 
what he wants that for. Grade, the Radical, has 
been answering Hardisty's speech by saying 'The 
Offences ' is the most shameless and cruel indictment 
ever brought against a warmhearted, grateful people. 
No doubt our dad will soon be in the thick of the 

That he was about to do something very kind and 

266 Did He Deserve It ? 

clever his daughter felt certain. Coffee was taken into 
the library, and he wrote for a long time uninterrupted; 
then he had a light supper and went to bed. No 
packet, however, lay on the table according to custom ; 
instead, when Joscelyne went in next morning to 
arrange matters before the servant began her spiriting, 
she was greeted by the smell of burnt paper — a most 
unusual odour in that house. 

As a rule Mr. Moucell did not burn or tear up. 
When he told Mr. Mallow his copy went wet to the 
printer, he only employed a pardonable exaggeration. 
He never could have got through his work had he 
fussed over it ; had he written an article seven 
times, for instance, or spent hours in considering the 
turn of a sentence. 

Heaven had given him a certain knack, which 
served well enough so long as he did not try to improve 
upon it. Evidently, however, he had been trying to 
do great things on that night when he destroyed side 
after side of copy. 

Joscelyne was surprised ; it must have been a 
very important article which failed to satisfy her 

In the grate she could see a mass of charred paper, 
but from the fender she only picked up a scrap of torn 
manuscript, whereon five words were distinguishable, 
" the obscurity it deserves, but — " She could not help 
seeing this little portion of a sentence which, however, 
conveyed no meaning to her. It was just a bit of 
copy, like everything else her father wrote, and she 
tossed it behind the bars. " Dear father ! " she con- 
sidered, " how hard he does work. I wish I could do 
something to help." 

Did He Deserve It? 267 

She had not much thought of love that morning, 
save for the parent who slaved so continuously. Poor 
Joscelyne ! 

And yet a happy Joscelyne as she walked back on 
the following Friday from the Westminister Bridge 
Road, where she had been to make some purchases 
for her aunt. Lately Mr. Moucell seemed brighter, 
and his eldest child basked in the sunshine of his 
greater cheerfulness. 

She loved the river, and making a trifling detour in 
order to walk beside it, went down the steps leading 
from Westminister Bridge, just as she had done one 
evening — when not alone. It all came back to her — 
the memory of the Abbey service, the sound of the 
lapping water, Mr. Mallow's thoughtful silence, the 
unaccountable joy that filled her heart, the cold rush 
of the evening wind ; and she stood for a minute 
looking across at the Houses of Parliament with 
a strange feeling that years and years had passed since 

Still she was not unhappy. The hopes and fears 
of others were now her own, and no human being 
is ever wretched who can utterly crush self. Her 
thoughts were full of Mr. Mallow's book, and the 
success it must be making, when looking up she saw 
Guy sauntering along towards her, his overcoat pockets 
stuffed with newspapers and his mouth full of bun, 
which he was surreptitiously devouring. 

" And where do you think you are ofT to ? " she 

" That's my business ! " 

" And mine, if I choose to make it so. What are 
you going to do with all those papers ? " 

268 Did He Deserve It ? 

" Post them ! " very sulkily. 

" Then why did you not drop them in at Vaux- 
hall ? " 

" Because I was told to take them to Charing 

'' What are they ? — oh, hnpartials^^ said Joscelyne, 
taking three out of his pocket. " Who directed 
these ? " she went on. 

"I don't know — " 

*' Who told you to post them ? " 

" Father — and he said I was to make haste." 

*' You looked like making haste when I met you, 
guzzling the money you were given for the boat ! " 

" Everybody is not in such a tearing hurry as you, 
miss ; and you are just wrong about the money. 
Father gave me sixpence, and said I could keep the 
change. I knew I could get to Charing Cross as fast 
as if I took the boat, so thought I might as well walk." 

" Get along now, then," said Joscelyne ; " I won't 
tell tales," and she went away feeling very much 

How good of her father — how thoughtful ! ^'But 
he is always good and thoughtful ! " 

The Impartial Review was so called, declared pre- 
judiced people, because it never spoke a good word 
about anybody except a few favourites, of whom only 
a limited number of persons had ever heard. 

Those favourites it represented as shining lights in 
a naughty world, and held out as examples for authors 
to follow. The Impartial was a very close borough ; 
no one knew who wrote for it, who was able to 
influence it, anything about it in fact. 

Perhaps for these very reasons it had grown to be a 

Did He Deserve It? 269 

power in literature ; and Joscelyne, as she resumed 
her progress, felt a thrill of pride at the idea Mr. 
Mallow had obtained immortality through its columns. 
She walked on very slowly, thinking how delighted 
the curate would be when he received the copy Guy 
had gone on to post. Mr. Bellingdon also ; likewise 
Mr. Hardisty ; likewise others whose names she had 
not seen. 

Then a great longing came over her to read the 
splendid notice she felt sure it contained. She 
lamented not having asked Guy to buy her one ; 
many papers found their way to South Lambeth, but 
the Impartial rarely, for Mr. Moucell did not believe 
in buying anything he could help, or the Impartial 
in giving anything it could avoid. 

Every step she took towards Vauxhall increased her 
longing. Without betraying the erring Guy she 
could not learn particulars from her father, who was 
laid up with a bad pain in his foot. " Gout," said the 
doctor. "Anxiety," believed the patient. Whether 
gout or anxiety, the pain prevented walking ; but 
Mr. Moucell bore this fresh trial without a murmur, 
his patience presenting a strong contrast to Joscelyne's 
inability to brook delay. The Impartial she felt she 
must see at once, therefore ere the end of High 
Street, Lambeth, was reached, she turned, and running 
back to the first pier, took a ticket for West- 

Arrived there, not an Impartial was to be had till 
she reached the Strand. 

" Only just in," said a stationer, handing her a damp 

She went down Villiers Street and sought the 

2 70 Did He Deserve It? 

peaceful seclusion of the Embankment Gardens. Her 
hands trembled so much she could scarcely open the 
paper, which had to be cut with a hairpin. Joscelyne's 
eyes galloped over the review, but as she read heaven 
and earth seemed to crash together. If the ground 
had opened at her feet she could not have felt more 

It was a scathing notice ; a bitter, biting, con- 
temptuous review, which opened with the words : 

'' We should have left this book in the obscurity 
from which it ought never to have emerged, but — " 

Part of the sentence seemed familiar to her, and all 
at once — she remembered. Was it possible ? Was 
it credible ? Alas ! scores of little things crowded in 
an instant on her recollection — trifles light as air — 
motes in the sunbeams — mere ripples on the water, 
which, apparently of no importance at the time, 
assumed a terrible significance in the lurid light that 
sentence threw across them. Sick and faint she 
dropped on one of the benches, still holding the paper 
in her hand. 

People who passed looked at her ; passed, repassed, 
and gazed curiously. She did not see them. One 
elderly lady asked kindly : 

" Are you ill, my dear ? " which question the girl 
answered with a start and : " Yes — no ; I think I will 
go home." 

"The very best place for you, child, I am sure. 
May I go with you ? " 

Then the " child" vaguely understood. 

" No, thank you," she said ; " I am not ill. I have 
only had a shock. I shall be better presently," 
and she got up and walked on to the Embankment, 

Did He Deserve It? 271 

knowing there was something she ought to do, and 
wondering what it could be. 

After a while she comprehended ; and out of her 
aunt's money despatched two telegrams — one to Miss 
Bellingdon : 

'' If the Impartial Review have been sent to you, 
let no one see it till you receive a letter from me." 

While the other to Mr. Mallow ran thus : 

" Attach no importance whatever to notice in Im- 
partial. It is well known to be the most spiteful 
review in London. Letter by post." 

After which she walked sadly to South Lambeth, 
and accounted as best she could for the length of her 
absence and the deficit in her change. 


The following afternoon Mr. Thomas Gerant appeared 
at South Lambeth in a state of high indignation. 

" Have you seen the InipartiaU " he asked, scarcely 
allowing himself time to inquire after the mysterious 
pain of which he had been duly informed by letter. 

" I have," answered Mr. Moucell, ostentatiously 
nursing his afflicted foot. 

" And what do you think of it ? " 

Mr. Moucell shrugged his shoulders after a not bad 
French fashion, considering the length of time which 
had elapsed since the Conquest. 

" Never before," said Mr Gerant, " has any book 
published by our firm been so slated as in that 

Mr. Moucell hazarded the pleasant observation that 
probably the Impartial had never hitherto thought any 
book brought out by Messrs. Gerant worthy its steel — 
a compliment so ambiguous the junior partner could 
only reply : 

" I do not know about that." 

" On the whole I regard the review as a com- 
pliment," went on Mr. Moucell. 

" Well, if you do, I don't," was the answer ; *' and I 
would cheerfully give fifty pounds to know who wrote 

Did He Deserve It? 273 

Again Mr. Moucell shrugged his shoulders. 

" If you made that bid hundreds, I don't think you 
could get at the man." 

" I have been to our solicitors, but they say it 
would be useless to bring an action." 

'' Perfectly ; this is a free country. The best 
course for you to pursue would be to hoist the 
Impartial with its own petard." 

" How do you mean ? " 

" Pick out a few words, such as ' A remarkable 
book,' ' An original plot,' and quote them without 
the context." 

" Oh ! we could not possibly — " 

" Why not ? It is perfectly legal — " 

'' It may be ; but we could not condescend to such 
trickery. I'd like to find out who wrote that article. 
Come, can't you help us ? " 

Mr. Moucell shook his head. " Set me some easier 
task," he said ; " making bricks without straw, for 
instance. Though, if I were you, I should not trouble 
myself further concerning the matter. Next week 
some other book will be served upon toast for the 
delectation of readers, and to-day's tid-bit forgotten. 
If, meantime, anyone chance to mention the matter, 
laugh and say the notice may be amusing fault-finding, 
but it is not criticism." 

And with this Mr. Gerant had to rest content. He 
stayed for a little while longer in the hope of seeing 
Joscelyne, but at length departed, accompanied to the 
hall door by Mr. Moucell, limping. Altogether the 
visit proved unsatisfactory and the house seemed 

There was one person in it very dull at heart, who 


274 Did He Deserve It? 

started at the sound of every knock, who was waiting 
for a message which did not come. 

Why she expected a telegram would be impossible 
to say. During the whole of Monday and many hours 
of Tuesday, however, she looked for a letter which 
arrived by the last post — one from Miss Bellingdon. 

'' Owing to your thoughtfulness, dear Joscelyne," 
thus the opening sentence ran, " that terrible review 
has wrought no evil. How can we ever express our 
thanks for your kindness? Desmond will write to 
you when he is a little better. He caught a chill in 
some way last Saturday, which two services on Sun- 
day did not improve, but I trust he will be well ere 
long. Meantime he desires his best and most grate- 
ful remembrance to you. 

" With true affection, ever yours, 

*' Grace." 

And then there was a postscript. 

*' Would you beHelve that it was only by dint of 
almost agonized entreaty I could persuade D. not to 
show the Impartial to my father. He said he did not 
consider he was acting honourably in keeping it 
back. So far there is no harm done ; but I fear I 
shall have trouble yet about the matter. Dear D. is so 
conscientious. Might he not be Woyle of Fincarrow 

Joscelyne shivered as if someone had walked over 
her grave. 

The days went by, and still Mr. Mallow did not 
write. Instead, there came a letter from Miss Belling- 
don. " D. does not shake off his cold. Doctor says 
he must remain in bed. Am writing for his mother. 
You shall hear again on Thursday." 

Did He Deserve It? 275 

What did the writer mean ? How long the hours 
seemed. How tardily time moved. Nevertheless it 
passed somehow, and the letter so anxiously looked 
for came at last. 

" It is fever. We know now he remained almost 
without food during the whole of that Saturday when 
the Review arrived. It was a damp, wretched morning, 
and poured in the afternoon. Kilbrannon is a very 
scattered parish, and he walked much further than he 
ought, returning home utterly worn out. Everything 
is being done that can be done, but naturally we feel 
very anxious. Fever has been and still is rife here." 

Yes — and he had gone out without breakfast on 
that Saturday, and after walking along sodden roads 
which ran between meadows literally steaming with 
damp, called at a cottage where the husband was 
down with fever, got home wet through, chilled to his 
marrow, to find that scathing Review waiting for him 
— a review which called his book " tawdry melodrama," 
and stigmatized his religious utterances as " goody 

The blow struck home, but he feebly fought against 
its effects, till, completely prostrated, he lay powerless, 
while the fever ran its course. 

Love he had, and skilful and good nursing ; but the 
fever raged, and defied all efforts to mitigate its 
severity. Mr. Bellingdon telegraphed to Dublin for a 
physician, who could suggest — nothing. "We can 
but pray and hope," wrote Miss Bellingdon, who 
wrote three times a week to Joscelyne ; and Joscelyne 
prayed also ; though hundreds of miles stretched 
between, it was as if one voice ascended to heaven. 

The suspense was killing ; but it ended suddenly. 

T 2 

276 Did He Deserve It? 

One Wednesday night, more than four weeks after 
the Impartial notice appeared, a letter arrived at 
South Lambeth from Kilbrannon. 

With trembUng fingers Joscelyne tore open the 
envelope, took out the enclosure, and read, ^' All is 
over. My dear one died last night." That was all. 
The curtain had dropped on the last act of the 
tragedy. As Mr. Moucell would have said, " Pro- 
phecy often works out its own fulfilment." How she 
got across the hall to her room and flung herself on 
the floor Joscelyne never knew. Madly she wrestled 
with her misery. Dead ! No, it could not be — yet it 

was ! 

Down which of the thousand corridors leading from 
time might she call on him to return ? Ah, none — 
for he had passed through the final barrier into the 
" far for evermore," where blame could not hurt or 
praise rejoice, where the voice of earthly friend or 
enemy might never reach. 

In the delirium of her grief, it seemed to Joscelyne 
she was standing on a lone seashore, with night 
approaching, and a cold wind blowing keen, watching 
the vessel which bore away something dearer than all 
the world. 

Dim and more shadowy each moment grew the 
outline of that barque which had for captain Death, 
for crew mutes, and for solitary passenger Desmond 

With straining eyes she followed its progress towards 
the unknown land, till all at once a mist arose which 
shrouded everything from her. Then she gave a 
shriek there was none to hear ! 

Did He Deserve It? 277 

Towards morning, utterly exhaused, she fell asleep, 
only to wake ere day dawned to the knowledge he was 
dead — that no matter how long she lived, she could 
never see his face, or touch his hand, or hear his 
voice again. 

She shrank within herself as she realized what had 
happened — as she thought of him lying straight and 
quiet, coffined, buried — never, never, never to speak 
to man or talk to woman or fondle child more ; never 
again to see the sun, or feel the rain, or brave the 
blast on earth, for ever. 

And in some ways she was so young, even for her 
years, she only vaguely grasped there might be a 
brighter sun, a more genial rain, a more invigorating 
blast in that distant land beyond the skies. 

" Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard." It was 
all very well, but the poor girl turned on her face and 

Her sight could not follow him. Her ear could 
catch no sound from out that far-off country. 

Only those who have passed through such agony 
know its full bitterness. And she still " sweet seven- 
teen." Think of it ! 

When she lay in her father's arms that September 
night, sobbing over an imaginary grief, premonition 
did not err. The future knew what was in store for 
her, and sent that advance guard to warn her of the 
enemy's approach. 

How did she meet the enemy when the evil hour 
came ? Bravely, poor soul, according to her lights. 

The former trouble was nothing to this. Then 
she knew he could never be lover, or aught save 
friend to her. That had been bitter enough ; still 

278 Did He Deserve It? 

she felt she could live it down, and be happy in his 

But now he was dead she could only picture him 
in his shroud. Her feeble faith failed to scale the 
walls of heaven and behold him in the glory which 
awaits the faithful ; not even in imagination had 
she seen the things that " shall come to pass " ; 
nevertheless, she girt herself up to bear the sorrow 

Unless we choose that it shall do so, grief does not, 
as a rule, trace on our faces a tale that those who run 
may read ; and spite of the trouble gnawing at her 
heart, Joscelyne, when she left her room, did not 
look very different from her usual self. 

She could not eat, feeling as though food would 
choke her ; but in that busy household want of 
appetite was not greatly noticed. If a person were 
not hungry at one meal, he was pretty sure to make 
up for his abstinence at the next ; and as Joscelyne 
took her coffee as usual, and made a feint of enjoying 
it, no one imagined there was anything the matter 
with her. 

When the postman knocked she, according to 
custom, emptied the box and sorted the letters. 
Yes, there it was, a deep black-bordered missive 
from Kilbrannon, to tell her father doubtless what 
had happened. 

How would he take it — he who — But she put 
that thought swiftly aside, and laid the mourning 
envelope among a number of others on the library 

Was her father likely to mention the matter ? 
She thought not — and her idea proved correct. 

Did He Deserve It? 279 

Mr. Moucell made no reference to any news the 
letter might have contained ; only asked if she could 
go on making some extracts he wanted, as he was 
anxious to finish an article. 

" Shall I be in your way if I wTite here ? " she 

" You are never in my way," was his reply ; and 
then they got to work. 

One hour, two hours, passed quickly, and Joscelyne 
had just taken down another mighty volume and 
looked out the chapters she wanted, when a loud 
double knock woke all the echoes of that quiet house, 
and immediately after Mr. Gerant, junior, entered. 

" I do not think, Miss Moucell," he said, turning 
immediately from the father to the daughter, " T 
ever before had the pleasure of seeing you ' at 
home,' if 1 may use the expression, in this literary 

^' She is doing some copying for me," explained 
Mr. Moucell. 

" Like a little busy bee," suggested the other. 

"I am not gathering much honey, I fear," said 
Joscelyne, trying to speak as usual, though the sight 
of Mr. Gerant and the conviction he was still 
ignorant of what had happened made her tremble 
like a sapling shaken by a strong wind, and long to 
scream hysterically, as she had done on the previous 
night when there was no one to hear. 

Mr. Gerant, however, noticing nothing save that 
the girl was looking rather pale, remarked he thought 
it would be difficult even for her to find any sweetness 
in such weighty tomes, after which observation he 
plunged into business. 

28o Did He Deserve It ? 

" As you have not been to see us lately, I thought 
I would call round and see you," he began, addressing 
Mr. Moucell. 

*' I fully intended writing to you," was the answer ; 
" but when work is very heavy, time slips by, and one 
forgets. You need not go, Joscelyne ; we have no 
State secrets to discuss." 

" And if we had, Miss Moucell, I for one should 
be only too glad to take you into counsel," said Mr. 
Gerant gallantly. 

Joscelyne could not answer. She fancied he had 
come to talk about a number of unread manuscripts, 
and her thoughts flew back to that never-to-be 
forgotten morning when she told her father : " The 
young man has come " — the young man who was now 
gone ! 

The deep waters of grief were rising again, and 
she had made that move to go lest their rush should 
overwhelm her. 

Mr. Moucell promised faithfully the manuscripts 
should receive immediate and careful attention. 

Mr. Gerant, in a capital temper, was easily satisfied, 
and did not attempt to stir. It was so pleasant to be 
in the room with Joscelyne, so nice to see her at 
what he mentally called '* literary work," that he 
felt like a cat who is being stroked, inclined to purr. 

*' Mallow's book is really going now," he said at 
last ; and the words pierced two in the room like a 

" Better late than never," answered Mr. Moucell. 

" It was the Times review started it ; and upon my 
word, I believe that ill-natured Impartial did us more 
good than harm ! " 

Did He Deserve It? 281 

" The next best thing to a very good notice is a 
very bad one," was the sententious comment. 

" I have heard that said before, but never believed 
it till now. Yes, the book is making a great success. 
By-the-bye, I wonder how it is I do not hear from 
Kilbrannon. I have written three times, and received 
no reply." 

Mr. Moucell hazarded no explanation of the 
mystery ; Joscelyne felt suffocating. 

" If he were away, I should have thought someone 
would forward his letters." 

"Ah ! who could do that to a land so very far 
off ! " swept over a torrent of unshed tears through 
the girl's mind. Perhaps the same idea occurred to 
her father, for he sat as one dumb. 

" When next you write to him — I suppose you do 
write occasionally — I wish you would say I have an 
offer for a serial which might be worth his attention. 
We could run it through in six months and publish 
in four." 

'' Indeed— ? " 

'' Yes ; the Universal people seem disposed to take 
a novel by the author of ' The Offences of His Fore- 
fathers.' It would be a fine opening for Mr. Mallow. 
The pay is about the best in London, and the paper 
goes all over the world. I cannot understand why he 
does not answer my letters. You do not think 
anybody is tampering with him ? " a little anxiously, 
for in that question lay the real purpose of Mr. 
Gerant's visit. 

" Quite impossible," Mr. Moucell forced himself to 

" That is my father's opinion. Still, one never 

282 Did He Deserve It? 

knows. And I should feel really obliged if you 
would drop him a line soon. You might repeat what 
T have already written. I have no doubt but that 
we could place his new book advantageously, and 
want to know when he will finish it." 

" He will never finish it," broke in Joscelyne, 
unable to contain herself longer. 

*' Never finish it, my dear Miss Moucell ! " repeated 
Mr. Gerant in a tone of amazed incredulity. 
" Why ? " 

*' Because he is dead /^^ answered the girl, bursting 
into such a passion of tears as she had not shed since 
early childhood, when some toy she desired was 
denied to her. And now that God had taken away 
the toy dearer than all, which never could have been 
hers, and yet that she could not bear to hear 
mentioned, the anguish of her soul broke bounds, 
and she wept as Mr. Gerant had never seen any 
one weep before. 

It was indeed like the unexpected rush of many 
waters, and shocked him so greatly that at first he 
could not speak, while Mr. Moucell, astonished at his 
daughter's knowledge of what had occurred, and 
sorely annoyed by such a whirlwind of grief and 
absence of self-control, remained silent also. 

" Is it true ? " Mr. Gerant asked after a pause, 
during which one might have counted ten slowly. 

" Unfortunately, yes," answered Mr. Moucell. 
'' He died on Monday last of fever." 

" He did not ! " gasped Joscelyne. '* He died of 
that review in the Impartial^ 

*' And you loved him," said Mr. Gerant in accents 
of deepest pity, uttering the words involuntarily. 

Did He Deserve It ? 283 

She did not answer, only sobbed on convulsively ; 
but she heard, and never afterwards forgot, that in 
the supreme agony of her life, when his own heart 
must have been wrung, he was sorry for her. 

" Shall we go into the next room ? My daughter 
will be better alone," suggested Mr. Moucell, who 
disliked all scenes, and thought all great emotions bad 

'' Certainly," said Mr. Gerant, moving towards the 
door, though he longed to stay behind. 

"The sad news only reached me this morning," 
went on Mr. Moucell, when the two men stood 
together looking with grave faces across at The Lawn, 
" and I had made no mention of the death to anyone ; 
therefore how my daughter was aware of it is a 
mystery to me." 

" Love always knows," observed Mr. Gerant 

" I had not the faintest suspicion of that either." 

" Yet the course you adopted was the very one to 
make them fall in love. They were never separate, 
it seemed to me," with a jealous ring in his 

" With all respect to your larger experience, I 
should have thought that the way to render them 
indifferent. The more obstacles you intervene, the 
more anxious young people are to jump them." 

Surely Mr. Moucell was not speaking out of the 
fulness of his own knowledge, for not an obstacle had 
been placed between him and Nannie Gray, 

" Propinquity is dangerous," answered Mr. Gerant. 

" I have never been of that opinion ; in any case, if 
my daughter had the slightest feeling of that sort, it 

284 Did He Deserve It? 

could only have been a mere fancy, which will soon 

Mr. Gerant made no reply. 

" What did Miss Moucell mean about the Im- 
partial 1 " he asked suddenly. 

"I have not a notion," 

" Evidently her information is greater than yours." 

*' Evidently," agreed Mr. Moucell. 

" Anyhow, it is a very bad business," said Mr. 
Gerant presently. " I think I will go straight back to 
the office and tell my father. I should not like him 
to hear of the matter suddenly ; and as the poor 
fellow died three days ago, some of the papers may 
have a paragraph." 

And having so spoken, the junior partner put on 
his hat and departed, though he had still a feeling 
strong upon him that he would have liked to remain 
in order to sympathize with Joscelyne, even if he could 
not comfort her. 


Though the pain no one quite understood had long 
been almost well, Mr. Moucell did not that day accom- 
pany his visitor to the gate. 

Instead, he stood looking at the leafless trees over 
the way, as if he had never seen them before. 

Probably he never had with the same eyes. He 
was not troubled by an over-sensitive conscience, yet 
that he possessed was pricking him sorely, and over 
and over again he mentally repeated Mr. Gerant's 
question, " What did Miss Moucell mean about the 
Impartial V 

What had the girl meant ? How did she know any- 
thing concerning it ? Who had informed her of the 
death ? Why did she not mention it to him, and 
then, after keeping silence for so long, break in so 
vehemently at the most inopportune moment she 
could have selected ? 

Too well he understood. Once upon a time — a 
quite recent time — Joscelyne would have brought her 
sorrow to him ; but something had come between 
them, and that something was the bit of spite he 
could not deny himself — and fox which he received a 
cheque ! 

Looking back, he could remember when the 
Joscelyne of old left the home she had made so bright 

286 Did He Deserve It? 

never to return, and a strange Joscelyne came and 
took her place. At the time he imagined it was love 
for the man since dead that caused the transformation ; 
but now some subtle intuition told him it was loss of 
respect for her living father. 

He could not question, dare not utter a rebuke for 
the undignified outbreak which told her secret to Mr. 
Gerant. He could do nothing. 

For the first time Mr. Moucell felt he had been 
weighed in the balance by one of his own children, 
and found wanting. 

When at last he returned to his study Joscelyne had 
disappeared. This was an intense relief ; and with a 
comparatively light heart he put aside the work 
interrupted by Mr. Gerant's entrance, and devoted 
himself to writing a few sympathetic paragraphs con- 
cerning the author " Whose sun had gone down while 
it was yet day." 

" If Moucell could make a guinea out of the mis- 
fortune of his dearest friend, he would do it," once said 
an astute enemy ; and the remark was true. 

Business is business, and guineas are guineas. 
Nothing could bring Mr. Mallow back to life, and if 
anything could be got out of his death, Mr. Moucell 
felt he might as well pocket it as anyone else. 

Living, Mr. Mallow had been of no use to him ; dead 
he could be "worked." Projecting his mind into 
the near future, Mr. Moucell saw an appreciative 
biography of the young author, written by him, John 
Moucell, and paid for by Messrs. Gerant, sent out as a 
preface to the new book. 

According to his convictions, any man who cherished 
fads concerning a higher, better, and altogether im- 

Did He Deserve It? 287 

possible life which ought to be carried into practice 
here, was a mistake, at so late a period of the world's 
history ; but still such an individual might make good 
and profitable " copy." 

Mr. Mallow's death did not in the least surprise Mr. 
Moucell. A person unable to stand the pleasant 
racket of London life, must, the latter felt satisfied, 
be wanting in some essential particular ; nevertheless, 
the literary hack who had a facile pen wrote several 
charming paragraphs concerning the gifted author, 
"cut oflfin his prime," which were read with tears both 
in Dublin and at Kilbrannon, though in London Mrs. 
Howley had to stint hers, for Mr. Moucell would have 
none of them. 

" The young man was nothing to us," he said. 
" He made himself pleasant and agreeable enough 
while here, but it is absurd to mourn for him as if he 
were a near kinsman. Anyone might imagine he had 
been Joscelyne's favourite brother. I feel quite vexed 
about the way his death has upset the poor girl. 
But leave her alone ; she will get over the trouble 

Wherein he proved to a certain extent right, for 
life has to be lived, whether men or women are glad 
or sorry ; but it was very long before Joscelyne felt 
happy again. The death of the man to whom she had 
guilelessly given her love, of the man who would have 
been a brother, friend, comforter, in times both of joy 
and grief, was much ; but it seemed as nothing when 
compared with the wreck of all confidence in, and 
respect for, her father. 

The loss of an ideal is always harder to bear than 
that of anything real, simply because the former, like 

288 Did He Deserve It? 

an imaginary fortune, knows no limitations. It grows 
with our growth, expands with our mental enlarge- 
ment ; and when its feeble roots finally refuse to bear 
the strain such enormous faith puts upon them, great 
is the fall thereof. 

Before that wretched week came to an end Mr. 
Thomas Gerant called again. He could have adopted 
no wiser course ; though, indeed, policy had nothing 
to do with his visit. He came simply for the reason 
that he could not stay away — that Joscelyne's tears, 
Joscelyne's broken accents, Joscelyne's misery were 
haunting him. 

According to custom, he was shown into the library, 
where, with no trace of the tempest that had swept 
over her, calm, " clothed and in her right mind," the 
girl sat alone, completing those extracts she had 
left unfinished after the hurricane broke. 

" My father is not at home," she said in her 
usual manner, thinking the servant had made a mis- 

" I called to see you," he answered. '' I could not 
bear to go on thinking you were in such trouble with- 
out trying to speak a word of comfort. We feel Mr. 
Mallow's death most deeply. I don't know that I ever 
saw my father so much upset as when I told him what 
happened. We are so sorry." 

Never, surely, before did "word," however beau- 
tifully expressed, seem more grateful or genuine. It 
dropped like oil on a wound, and Joscelyne had much 
ado to refrain from tears, though a minute before she 
had thought hers were all shed. 

"Thank you very much," she answered, beginning 
her sentence after the fashion of a modern Miss. 

Did He Deserve It? 289 

" When you went the other day I felt greatly grieved 
to think I had behaved so foolishly, but 1 could not 
help crying. You see, I knew he was dead all the time 
you and father were talking of him as a living man, 
and at last something forced me to speak." 

'' I quite understand " — which he did not in the 
least. "-You may be sure I had no idea of what had 
happened ; even now I know very little. Perhaps, if 
not too painful, you would tell me some of the details. 
My father and I feel sadly grieved, for we liked Mr. 
Mallow immensely. He was so honourable, charming 
and straightforward. May I ask from whom you heard 
of his death ? " 

A question Mr. Gerant had been hungering to ask, 
since there were times when to his jealous fancy it 
seemed as though the girl must have received her in- 
formation direct from spirit land ! 

Not sorry to avail herself of the opportunity offered, 
Joscelyne replied, — 

"From Miss Bellingdon, the lady to whom he was 
engaged," which answer so astounded Mr. Gerant that 
he did not speak immediately. At last, however, he 
managed to get out, — 

" Was he engaged ? Poor fellow ! " in a tone of such 
real feeling that Joscelyne felt a big lump rising in her 
throat, because of the pity of it all. 

There ensued another pau se, which this time she 
ended by beginning tremulously to explain for how 
long a time the attachment had lasted, how beautiful 
and good Miss Bellingdon was, how much had 
depended, according to human judgment, on whether 
" The Offences of His Forefathers" proved a success 
or not, how well everything seemed going till that un- 


290 Did He Deserve It ? 

favourable review appeared, how greatly it had troubled 
the author, who could hardly be restrained from show- 
ing it to Mr. Bellingdon, even at the risk of shattering 
all his hopes. 

" Just like him," interposed Mr. Gerant warmly. 
^* He was the soul of honour. But pray proceed, Miss 
Moucell ; the story you are telling might be a chapter 
taken from Mr. Mallow's own book." 

*' Yes — might it not ? " said Joscelyne earnestly ; 
but then, remembering the author would never write 
any more chapters, she stopped all of a sudden, and 
Mr. Gerant, with love and good feeling for efficient 
teachers, took up the sorrowful tale. 

"A book about which everyone is now talking, 
which will be, which is, a great success, which must 
take a high place in literature — all too late, since the 
author can never know." 

" Miss Bellingdon's heart is broken, but she says she 
feels all has been — I heard from her this morning. 
She is so — " faltered Joscelyne. 

"Yes," said Mr. Gerant, who comprehended the 
girl's utterances, and he said no more ; and it was not 
till he was walking back along the Horseferry Road 
that he remembered he had spoken but one of the 
many consolatory sentences he intended to utter. 

Yet it was best so. The few words he spoke 
straight from his heart touched Joscelyne more than 
the best essay on " The Worthlessness of Fame " 
could have done. She had always hated his com- 
pliments, but on that day, when he came and talked 
to her naturally and kindly, she saw him as he was — 
a man to be greatly esteemed, to be enormously liked, 
true and unaffected. 

Did He Deserve It? 291 

Though he could boast no Norman blood, whether 
of peer or peasant, honest English flowed through his 
veins, which would never permit him to do a mean or 
dishonest action ; and if not like Mr. Moucell, " in 
society," he was a straightforward gentleman, to whom 
any girl might have safely entrusted her future. 

Mr. Gerant, however, did not appraise himself at 
his full worth, and consequently lamented as he 
walked officeward those unspoken sentences he had 
fondly hoped would carry such an amount of conso- 
lation with them. 

Before that year was much older, however, he 
found ample opportunity for repairing any real or 
fancied omission of which he might have been 
guilty, for April showers were scarcely over — certainly 
May flowers had not come — ere Mr. Moucell was 
brought home one day in a cab, and for some days it 
seemed doubtful whether he would ever leave South 
Lambeth again — save in a hearse. 

All at once, as in the twinkling of an eye, that 
unintelligible pain, which had left Mr. Moucell's foot, 
reinforced by seven times seven other demons as bad 
as itself, took possession of Mr. Moucell's head and 
held high revel there. What the man suffered in 
mere physical pain it would be hard to tell, while his 
mental anguish was greater still. 

For weeks he lay conscious, yet incompetent. Had 
millions been offered to him, he could not have 
written a paper on any subject. He was as one dead, 
yet living ; one who wanted for nothing, and still 
whom it taxed all the household resources to keep in 

The crisis had come. Like death, it was bound to 

u 2 

292 Did He Deserve It? 

come some day, but also like death, the man had never 
realized that it would. 

Through the mouth of Mr. Mallow good old Mother 
Nature had first spoken ; afterwards she sent that 
mysterious pain as a warning ; then, finding all hints 
disregarded, she advanced more boldly, and took his 
brain citadel by storm. 

The great trouble had come. Nineteen years of in- 
cessant work must tell, and as it seemed in a moment, 
Mr. Moucell found himself and family brought to the 
verge of ruin. Ever and always he had lived from 
hand to mouth, but when taken ill the hand was closer 
to the mouth than usual. 

And afterwards? Well, how do people live who 
have nothing ? 

At first the shopkeepers were very good. They had 
been paid promptly while cash was plentiful, and they 
were willing to wait when told of Mr. Moucell's illness ; 
they had waited aforetime ; their bills had been 
honourably settled ; but South Lambeth cannot be 
considered a district where cash is ever well in evi- 
dence ; therefore, after a brief period, the shortness 
became acute. No matter how economically a house- 
hold may be managed, some money is required to 
maintain twelve human beings and pay rent, 
rates, taxes, and the many sundries civilization in- 

Friends were very kind and attentive after their 
usual incompetent fashion. What the Radical shop- 
keeper before honourably mentioned, called " coro- 
knighted carriages " and *' crested footmen " called at 
intervals " to inquire " ; Lady Fenland was good 
enough to send grapes forced at Marsh Hall to a man 

Did He Deserve It? 293 

who could not eat them, when there was not a shilUng 
in the house wherewith to buy bread. Mr. CUfton 
Jones very liberally forwarded a case of " extraordin- 
arily sound" Marsala — dear at any price — with compli- 
ments ; Mrs. Eldon Gannor presented flowers fre- 
quently ; while Mr. Blackshaw actually crossed the 
river in order to suggest turtle and Madeira ! 

" Which have done me ever so much good," he said. 
" Just to show you, now, what doctors are, when I 
told mine I had been taking turtle soup and a little 
wine with advantage, he asked : ' Why I had not 
tried both long before ? ' 

" * Because you told me to be most careful in my diet,' 
I answered. 

" ' Of course I did,' he replied ; ' but I never told you 
to starve ! ' and the man actually laughed ! " 

Some friends were cast in a different mould, how- 
ever ; one, for example, who sent a hundred pound 
note anonymously to Mrs. Howley. Mr. Thomas 
Gerant also posted a cheque regularly, which kept 
matters moving ; while one morning both partners 
called to know how Mr. Moucell was. 

Very low indeed he felt ; nevertheless they saw 
him. While they were uttering the few cheerful words 
which occurred to them, Joscelyne appeared with a 
parcel, and was introduced to the elder visitor. Then 
she bent over the sick man and said softly, — 

" A messenger from Lanfords, dear father, who have 
sent a drawing to know whether you could write 
something up to it. He would not accept my answer, 
so I am forced to trouble you." 

" Take it away," he answered feebly. '^ Tell him I 
am ill." 

294 Did He Deserve It? 

" Mr. Moucell is very bad I am afraid," remarked 
Mr. Thomas Gerant, as he and his father wended their 
way to Vauxhall. 

" Yes ; but I do not think he is in danger. I judge 
by the look in his eyes. What a sweet pretty girl 
the daughter is ! Eh ! Master Tom ? In all your 
comings and goings you never mentioned her. Sly 
dog, sly dog ! " added the old gentleman, so pleased 
that he made a feint of poking his son in the ribs, for 
Joscelyne had completely won his heart, and it was 
high time " Master Tom " thought of settling. 


Autumn leaves had once more fallen ; the trees in 
The Lawn had again stood black and gaunt under 
wintry skies ; another Christmas had gone to keep its 
predecessors company, and a fresh year was more than 
two months old one morning when Mr. Moucell sat 
in his library thinking. 

Any person looking at him might have judged him 
the same man ; but during the previous twelvemonth 
he had passed through a time that engraved bitter 
truths on his understanding, which showed him as in 
a glass not darkly what would certainly come to pass 
some day, unless he bestirred himself to avert coming 

He had shaved ruin once by a miracle, but he 
could not expect miracles to be constantly performed 
for his behoof. During that bad illness, the curse of 
literary life, its instability, was brought home to him 
in a practical manner. 

" Had I been a merchant," he thought, " my 
partners, manager, and clerks, would have carried on the 
business during my absence. Had I been a tradesman 
my shopmen and family might have made shift to keep 
things going ; but when an author, artist, or actor is 
laid by the heels, who is to take up the running ? 
Authors are not even members of a club, like other 

296 Did He Deserve It? 

workpeople ; we cannot claim our sick allowance, 
but have to trust to charity. It is very hard." 

And it was for John Moucell, who had never any 
right to be a professional author at all, and who never 
would have been, save for his own vanity and the 
accident of meeting Nannie Gray. 

The compensations of literature were not for him. 
The comfort she gives her poorest children he had 
never known. When sickness came upon him he 
could only lie through the long nights thinking of his 
troubles, of impending ruin, of children left without 
any provisions, of a life spent in furnishing '* copy," no 
line of which would ever be remembered. A literary 
man, no ; a literary hack — nay, rather as an enemy 
once said — a literary mercenary ! 

Where, during that awful time of compulsory 
idleness, had been the staunch allies, the faithful 
comrades, other men boasted ? Conspicuous by their 

jNot one, save perhaps a few editors who knew he 
was dependable, thought about him at all. No man 
said, ''Poor Moucell ! he gave me the first shove from 
shore," or " a leg up," or " helped me when I needed 
help," or even " he was a kind fellow." 

No, all through he had thought solely of himself 
and for himself ; and therefore, when the inevitable 
harvest grew ripe for the sickle, he was left to reap it 

Of all this he had thought bitterly — not, be it well 
understood, that he desired the friendship of his kind, 
but simply because straws show how the wind blows ; 
and he felt very certainly another and slightly 
stronger gale would bear him to ruin. New men 

Did He Deserve It? 297 

would rush in and take his place ; new editors would 
not be told John Moucell had done yeoman's work for 
years. Among his own craft he was not liked — a 
bitter thought, though he had never made a bid for 

Amidst great people he desired to dwell, and now 
he knew exactly what they would do for him — a 
little fruit, costless inquiries, a case of very inferior 
wine — alas ! alas ! and he who might have — 

" Father, are you very busy ? " It was Joscelyne 
who cut across his meditations at this point. Not the 
bright, short-skirted Joscelyne that had greeted 
Messrs. Gerant and Moucell eighteen months pre- 
viously, but quite another damsel. 

The damask roses had faded to faintest pink ; liHes 
were more in evidence than ever ; her wealth of hair 
strayed wild no longer for the winds of Heaven to 
play with ; and yet the new Joscelyne, now well on in 
her nineteenth year, looked fairer by far than the girl 
who had wept such bitter tears over imaginary griefs 
in the days before she knew what real trouble meant. 

Since then she had left the stream and crossed the 
river ; she had learned to know what struggle and 
sorrow were, and what endurance was likewise ; a 
good girl and a lovely — with lustrous dark eyes ; in 
the depths of which lurked the shadow of a great 
trouble she had faced bravely and lived down. 

Mr. Moucell looked at her with the expression of a 
person expecting something, and answered, — 

" Not very busy. Why do you ask ? " 

" Because I want to speak to you." 
He rose, and almost ceremoniously placed a chair for 
her. " Now," he said, " what is it ? '^ 

298 Did He Deserve It? 

There was that he felt lying between them which 
might never be mentioned, and yet which might have 
to be spoken any day, any minute. 

'^ Dear father," she exclaimed, as if hurt, " could I 
not have got a chair for myself ! " 

*'I liked to get a chair for my daughter," he 
answered, and waited. 

She did not keep him on the tenter-hooks, but went 
straight to the point, 

" Mr. Gerant was here last evening — " 

u Yes ? " 

'' He came to ask if I would marry him." 

'' And you — " 

" Said I would." 

There ensued utter silence. As a matter of course 
Mr. Moucell had always known whither Mr. Gerant's 
wishes were tending, but it seemed odd to him that his 
daughter should have encouraged such a lover. It 
was inconceivable, in fact. The old Joscelyne would 
not, he felt assured ; but this new creature, who was 
his child, and yet seemed a stranger, said calmly and 
apparently without the smallest care for what his 
opinion might be, that she had accepted her unlikely 

*' You have thought it all out, I suppose," he re- 
marked at last. 

" I think so," she answered, without even a shade of 

" You clearly understand you will be marrying out 
of our rank ? " 

" Any woman, I fancy, can pretty nearly make her 
own rank ; besides, what is our rank — I do not mean 
yours, but ours — mine, for instance ? " 

Did He Deserve It? 299 

A question so difficult to answer that Mr. Moucell 

" I always expected," he said loftily, " that if 
matters went well. Lady Clifton Jones would introduce 

Joscelyne laughed. '' She might if I had a ' very 
great fortune in silver and gold ' — not otherwise." 

" How can you speak in that way of people who 
have been consistently kind ? Remember how 
constant were their inquiries while I was laid 

Joscelyne knew whose thoughtfulness had been 
untiring, but she only said, — 

" Lady Clifton Jones has never been very kind to 
me ; besides, I do not want to be patronized. I should 
not care to visit at any house where I felt my absence 
would be preferred to my company." 

" If you have really accepted Mr. Gerant, I suppose 
no good purpose can be served by my raising any 
objection," went on Mr. Moucell, irritated by the girl's 
slighting references to Lady Patricia, who, as she 
could on occasion be as calmly insolent as her grand- 
aunt, Nannie Gray's benefactress, had no doubt often 
vexed Joscelyne's fiery spirit, " but duty compels me 
to make one remark, namely, — that it is a dangerous 
experiment to marry without love." 

"I do love Mr. Gerant as much as I could love 
anyone," was the reply. 

" Perhaps, at present," commented Mr. Moucell 
coolly. " Still, consider, my poor child, the many, 
man}' years that stretch in all probability before you, 
during the course of which you may meet too late 
with some person you could love infinitely better." 

300 Did He Deserve It ? 

The • banished colour returned to her face and 
blazed for a moment in each cheek. 

" Surely," she said, " you do not imagine I should 
ever grow to be like one of those women we read about 
in novels, that always seem to me foolish as wicked." 

" Yet who no doubt were once as innocent as you 
are now." 

"I do not believe it," she replied; "I do not 
believe they were ever innocent ; and, at all events, 
that has nothing to do with the matter. I expressed 
myself badly. What I intended to say was that I love 
Mr. Gerant so much, I could not possibly love him any 
more. You understand ? " 

" Well, it is difficult, for there was certainly a time 
when you did not love him at all — when the only 
feeling he inspired was a little aversion." 

" That is true," she confessed ; *' once I did not 
know him well. I do know him now, though. I 
could never tell you how good and patient and tender 
and kind he has been — how nice in every way." 

'' Indeed ! At last I quite understand. Mr. Right 
is come, and I am nowhere." 

" Dear father, do not be so cruel. Nothing and no 
one could ever step between you and me. Do you 
think when I watched beside you during those weary 
nights I did not remember the years you had worked 
for us and never given yourself needful rest ? of how 
you had always considered your children, who were 
able to do nothing for you in return — nothing ? " 

*' It was my duty to work for and consider my 
children, and I tried to do it — that is all. Illusions 
lead but to disappointment, and it would be mad- 
ness for me to cherish any. I did not think our 

Did He Deserve It? 301 

parting would take place so soon, but some such 
ending is scarcely a surprise. For long I have noticed 
a change in you — a great change — though I failed to 
guess the cause." 

*^ Father, father, father ! oh, how can you ? " she 
cried. " What have I done ? How have I changed ? 
For a time I was not very happy, but surely that is not 
a sin. All through, my love for you never altered. 
Nothing could put division between us. Pray, pra}'^ 
believe me ! If you were to turn me out of your 
heart I would try to creep in again somehow ; if you 
were to commit " — a murder, she was going to say, 
but really what he had done trenched so closely on 
such an act, she could not speak the words, and sub- 
stituted — " some crime, and all men turned from you 
in your trouble, I should not ; I should love you just 
the same, only more — only more ; and I would try to 
shield you — I would ! " 

She was clinging to him as she ended ; her arms 
were twined round his neck ; her kisses fell warm on 
his lips. The Joscelyne of old had indeed gone, but a 
fonder, sweeter, dearer, more womanly Joscelyne was 

" Speak to me ! " she entreated ; '* say something, 
father ! " 

He was greatly affected ; everything best in him 
answered to this unexpected outburst. 

'' What shall I say ? " he asked, trying to speak 
lightly — " that I am glad to lose my daughter ? " 

'' No, no ! you know what I mean." 

He did. He took her to his heart, and laid her face 
close to his. " May Heaven bless you, dear," he said, 
" and your husband ! I hope you will make a very 

302 Did He Deserve It? 

honest gentleman as happy as I know he will try to 
make you. I am not jealous, Joscelyne ; I was only 
jesting. After all, it is a wrench to part with a child, 
and I—" 

He stopped, just because he could not go on. She 
put up her hand and gently stroked his cheek, which 
was wet, and thus the shadow which had for so long 
lain between them passed away. Not a word more 
was spoken, then or ever ; but he knew she knew, and 
felt she would be loyal. 

It was not a match he liked, yet his common sense 
told him it would be for her happiness ; and he 
welcomed Mr. Gerant when he came that evening with 
a cordiality which seemed very pleasant. The next 
day Joscelyne went to make the acquaintance of her 
future mother-in-law, who received the girl with open 

Though a " dowerless lass," the Gerants one and all 
were pleased Thomas had chosen such a pretty and 
charming bride, while Mr. Moucell's friends were 
immensely gratified to learn " he was getting his 
daughter settled so quickly and well." 

" A most sensible match," said Lady Fenland to 
the Marquis. " It will be most advantageous to her 

" And push on the boys," capped his lordship. 

*' And make things smoother all round," added her 
ladyship. Indeed, there seemed to be a general im- 
pression that the Moucells had found a sort of lucky 
bag, into which each member of the family might dip 
with a certainty of extracting a prize. 

*' I had an idea that poor Mr. Mallow would be the 

Did He Deserve It? 303 

fortunate individual," remarked Mrs. Alston, after 
offering her hearty congratulations ; " but this is much 
better ; so secure in every way." 

" Much better," agreed Mr. Moucell — " even had 
Mr. Mallow not been engaged for years before he came 
to lis." 

*' I did not know he was engaged. I thought him 
particularly nice ; but of course an author's position is 
never secure. I do feel thankful Joscelyne will have 
no pecuniary anxieties. My brother's solicitor knows 
a great deal about the Gerants, of whom he speaks in 
the highest terms. Old Mr. Gerant he considers a 
type of what a City merchant ought to be. I am so 
very glad to think this happiness has come to you, 
after your long struggle and illness." 

" Yes," agreed Mr. Moucell. '' Fortune owed me a 
kindness, for she has been somewhat chary of her 
favours of late. I feel quite easy about my girl." 
And he did. It had come to that. He felt much more 
easy about her than about himself. 

His illness had told. He was, so he said himself, 
'' quite well again," but he knew he could never be 
the same strong, tireless fellow who used to sit up of 
nights and work all day, and go long without food, 
and walk miles and miles whether the weather were 
good or bad. 

His doctor told him he must take care of himself — 
" as if," thought Mr. Moucell, with great contempt 
for that gentleman's common sense, " an author, if he 
have to live, could take care of himself ! as if he had 
not to be at everybody's beck and call — to do his work 
fit, or unfit, or else drop out of the ranks, beaten ! 

304 Did He Deserve It? 

And after all," he finished, " an author is only flesh 
and blood — not cast iron, as some imagine. Being flesh 
and blood, what is he to do when the inevitable time 
of sickness and languor sweeps down upon him like a 
destroying host ? " 

A very pertinent question — one he had considered in 
the night watches and could not answer. Supposing 
such an illness as he had passed through struck him 
down again, how should he ever be able to pull 
through the many difficulties enforced idleness brings 
in its train ? 

Since he began work on the literary treadmill he had 
never been able to put money by. He had never, 
indeed, really found it possible to meet annual expenses 
without great trouble, or, indeed, with great trouble. 
Hitherto Hope had kept him up, but there comes a 
time when sense tells men hope is a delusion and a 
snare. His outgoings and anxieties were steadily in- 
creasing, and not likely to diminish for years. Josce- 
lyne certainly would soon be, as Lady Clifton Jones put 
the matter, " off" his hands," but what was she among so 
many ? Money had undoubtedly come, as if from 
Heaven, during his illness ; but Heaven has a way 
often of withholding such benefactions at some 
supreme moment ; besides, enough had not come to 
relieve him from former duns — many of whom were 
extremely disagreeable. He often thought concern- 
ing that hundred pounds, and considered what it 
meant. He knew well enough who had dropped 
it from above, though Mrs. Howley spent herself in 
maundering conjectures as to what former lover could 
have been prompted by Providence to send such a 
gift, and finally fixed upon an old miser who would 

Did He Deserve It ? 305 

not have given his mother sixpence to keep her out of 
the union. 

''He is very rich now," she said ; " he has got on 
wonderfully ; and thoughts of former days are put 
into hearts sometimes in the strangest way. Yes, I 
am sure that note must have come from Leonard 
Thompson. My father gave him his first recom- 
mendation, and people don't forget. It was wonder- 
fully kind ; I know I had a good cry the night I 
opened that envelope. The next day, I remember, 
Mrs. Alston called and asked if she could not 
send some little thing, and I contrasted — " But Mr. 
Moucell had vanished. Illness often causes impa- 
tience, and the convalescent in those first days of 
recovery found a little of good Mrs. Howley go a long 

When he was getting better, also, he got to know 
more of his son, the Apostle, than he had ever thought 
to learn. 

While Mr. Moucell lay at his worst, it is scarcely too 
much to say that had Paul expressed a desire for the 
top brick off the chimney, his aunt would have sent 
a man up to get it ; for which reason he soon grew 
worse than ever, and, as Philip declined to interfere, 
storms became frequent and violent. He would even 
lie down in the hall and begin his sinful service of song, 
when Mrs. Howley at once gave him whatever he 
wanted on the sole condition that he would hold his 

Of all these things poor Mr. Moucell bethought 
himself as he sat and looked at the pleasant woman 
who said she was glad the happiness of Joscelyne's 
engagement had come to cheer him — and the old 


3o6 Did He Deserve It? 

jingle : " He who will not when he may, When he will 
he shall have nay," recurred at the same time to his 
memory unpleasantly. Somehow he had got a great 
shake. He did not feel as if he were the same man, 
as if he stood in the old position. Perhaps it was the 
knowledge that the old position could but be regarded 
as a delusion which caused the change. Let the 
cause be what it might, he, however, seemed to have 
but shifting sand under his feet. 

Once upon a time he believed he had only to ask 
and have Mrs. Alston ; now he experienced doubts. 
She was very friendly, very charming, but — he did 
not feel sure. As he walked back from Bloomsbury 
he asked himself why he failed to put his fortune 
to the test while the certainty was still his, and he 
could only say : Because the idea of matrimony held 
no charm. He had been free for so long — free as the 
winds of heaven to come and go — that the prospect of 
having to conform to rules, and consider hours, appalled 
him. And yet — though liberty was sweet, poverty 
was bitter. It would be hard to live in the house with 
a wife, and harder by far to live with Mr. Blackshaw's 
digestion, or rather, want of one ; still it might be that 
hereafter he would repent in sackcloth and ashes if he 
let such an opportunity slip. Life was changing — had 
changed. Such a marriage would free him from all 
pecuniary difficulty ; yet how could he propose to a 
rich woman — he who had nothing ? Besides, what 
would Mr. Blackshaw say ? Pshaw ! that would be all 
right. The more obstacles Mr. Moucell saw in the 
way, the more wishful he grew to overcome them. He 
would put the question — when, must be determined 
by the chapter of accidents. Meantime he grew eager 

Did He Deserve It ? 307 

for Joscelyne's marriage. Unknown almost to himself, 
he had ever felt her a stumbling-block on his 
matrimonial road. 

It was August, however, when, with no flourish of 
trumpets or beating of drums, the wedding took place 
— a very quiet wedding, as was only fitting under the 
circumstances, for Joscelyne's father had no money, 
and Mr. Gerant's mother no health ! 

X 2 


All in the fine August weather, when London was 
" stuffy" exceedingly, when most of the streets were 
up, and but few persons were left in town save four 
millions or thereabouts who could not go abroad, or 
anywhere in fact save to the daily grind — Mr. Moucell, 
in response to a kindly-worded note, wended his way 
Bloomsburyward, in a somewhat doubtful frame of 

It was the question which had been perplexing him 
for years that troubled him on the summer afternoon 
when he walked across Long Acre and thence to Mr. 
Black^haw's house — the question he had thought over 
and negatived, reconsidered, and left in abeyance — 
decided to put, and then deferred — he was still think- 
ing o^'er, reconsidering, and inclined to leave in abey- 
ance, only he felt it would not be wise putting it off 
much longer. 

Should he, or should he not ? 

Before leaving South Lambeth he had answered 
that question in the affirmative. No longer would he 
stand halting between two opinions. The idea of 
matrimony — particularly matrimony with an insub- 
ordinate liver attached — was odious ; but the reality of 
pover*:y seemed more odious still. 

He had never thoroughly regained health since the 
inexplicable illness about the real nature of which his 

Did He Deserve It ? 309 

doctor seemed as ignorant as himself ; the only 
statement he could extract from that gentleman 
being : " You micst take complete rest," as if a man with 
no income and twelve mouths to fill could lie idle on 
the sunny sands of life ! To outward view he was 
well and strong as ever, for to use one of Mr. Ma 'low's 
phrases, " His looks did not pity him," but Mr. Moucell 
felt too surely a screw had loosened somewhere. 

No one save the wearer knows how a shoe can pinch, 
and no one except the man who had worked so long 
and bravely could have told the extent to which the 
effects of that grievous illness were still crippling his 
bodily and mental energies. 

There were days when it took him longer to write 
a sentence than it had aforetime to turn out many sides 
of copy ; when he sat with the pen in his hand waiting 
for something which refused to come. On such occpsions 
ideas were as disobedient to his command as though 
they had been " spirits from the vasty deep." 
Thoughts such as they were had hitherto aever 
failed him, but now even when they chose to put in 
an appearance he had to delay sending them out 
into the world for lack of suitable words in whi^h to 
clothe them. 

He was unable to walk also, either so far or fast as 
formerly, and altogether, though " quite well again," 
so he assured those who inquired concerning his health, 
he had feelings and symptoms about which he did not 
care to speak even to the doctor, who, when they met, 
was wont to shake his head and gravely repea. that 
old formula, — 

"You ought to take a long rest, as a mere mauer of 

310 Did He Deserve It? 

All these things, and many more, had caused him to 
mentally answer, " T will," to " Shall I, or shall I not ? " 
but did not make his determination any the pleasanter. 
Difficulties hitherto unthought of presented themselves 
at every step : What about his children ? What 
about his own position ? How could he speak — he who 
had not spoken through the years ? 

Still, he must speak, and one way or other end 
the present uncertainty, which was, as he phrased the 
matter to himself, " death to work." Therefore only 
chance, accident, opportunity, could settle the how — 
and when. 

Mrs. Alston had by her note given him a good 
opening. *'I am longing," she said, "to hear all 
about the wedding. Harry and I are only in town 
for a short time. We returned from Scotland yester- 
day, and leave for Switzerland in a week. Do, pray, 
come, therefore, and tell me your news," which was 
very friendly and nothing more. Still, he might 
make it more ; he might begin to lay a foundation 
whereon to build after that Swiss trip. Meantime he 
must not think too much about the impending inter- 
view, and accordingly shook his mental kaleidoscope, 
and considered the one agreeable circumstance which 
of late had broken the weary monotony of matters 
going steadily from bad to worse. 

Curiously enough, that one bit of sunshine burst 
upon him quite unexpectedly from Mr. Mallow's 
mother, who, having come to London to meet her 
sister, had taken lodgings in Cecil Street — a street 
at one time greatly affected by Irish people of 
moderate means and fair position. 

There Mr. Moucell went to see her ; there he was 

Did He Deserve It? 311 

thanked, with many tears, for all his kindness that 
" would never be forgotten " — and there also he heard, 
for the first time, of his dear daughter's extraordinary 
thoughtfulness in telegraphing '' both to Grace and 
Desmond," which proved news indeed, since for 
obvious reasons Joscelyne had kept silence concerning 
her part in the little drama. 

Much too old a campaigner to betray his ignorance, 
Mr. Moucell sat and listened, never interrupting the 
maternal flow of narrative save by a word of sympathy 
or interjection of grief, which could only be considered 
in the light of a " Hear, hear," or " Bray — vo ; go it ! " 
delicately spoken. 

In this way he learned, or rather, by putting two 
and two together, he soon gathered that it was not the 
ImpartiaVs scathing review, but rather his daughter's 
telegram, which sent Mr. Mallow out breakfastless 
through a country so damp it might with advantage 
have been well wrung, and hung up to dry like a wet 
rag, and caused him to fall an easy victim to infection, 
or to put the matter shortly, was the beginning of the 
whole trouble. 

Had she refrained from meddling in a matter 
which was no concern of hers, Mr. Mallow might still 
have been alive, preaching and writing about free-will, 
predestination, election, and other kindred subjects, 
and Joscelyne probably Miss Moucell as hereto- 

The Liipartial had no hand in the young author's 
death. It was the agony of apprehension caused by 
Joscelyne herself, the weary imagining what shocking 
things the review to which her telegram referred 
could contain that drove him forth fasting into the 

312 Did He Deserve It? 

green wilderness watered too abundantly by Shannon's 
silvery river ! 

Mr. Moucell's mind at last felt quite at ease. His 
daughter's loyalty he never doubted : what he had 
dreaded were her impetuosity and her temper. All 
women had one weak point. Given a time of deep 
depression or of marital or friendly confidence, and they 
would say in a moment that which never could be 
unsaid. Joscelyne would have gone to death for him 
he felt sure, nevertheless he had not known a really 
easy hour since. 

'' It was that review in the Impartial killed him," 
smote upon his ear. 

Now, however, as " in a twinkling," all was changed, 
Joscelyne herself could alone be considered responsible 
for Mr. Mallow's death, and should need arise Mr. 
Moucell meant to tell her as much. 

He hoped he would never require to do so, still, 
knowledge is always power ! 

Poor Mrs. Thomas Gerant ! Happy in her first 
experience of foreign or, indeed, any travel, had she 
dreamed even a dream concerning the pebble her 
father had picked out of a clear Irish rivulet of talk 
and placed in his pocket ready to sling at her should 
occasion arrive, she might not have felt quite so 
content. The notion had never occurred to her, or 
indeed to anyone else living, except astute Mr. 
Moucell, and yet that gentleman's conclusion was 
perfectly correct — though Joscelyne never heard a 
word about it. The necessity for speech did not arise, 
for she remained loyal to the last. 

Meantime, however, Mr. Moucell felt all the 
happier because of that Httle boon Mrs. Mallow had 

Did He Deserve It? 313 

unconsciously bestowed upon him, and told " all his 
news " well and cheerily. 

Joscelyne was safely married to '^ a very good 
fellow " whose '' people were delighted with her." 
Mr. Isaac Gerant had bought a house next door to 
his own for the young couple, as the poor invalid 
mother wished them to live close at hand. 

" And does your daughter like such an arrange- 
ment ? " asked Mrs. Alston. 

" Very much," was the reply. 

" You will miss her sadly." 

" More than I can say. She has been my very right 
hand," a statement Mrs. Alston had heard before often. 
" But though her marriage leaves me lonely ex- 
ceedingly," went on Mr. Moucell, '' I must not repine. 
She has gone where she will be loved and appreciated 
and taken good care of. Candidly, there was a time 
when the match did not recommend itself to me, but 
I feel now she was right and I wrong." 

" Yes, I think so," and there ensued a short silence 
which was broken by Mr. Moucell. 

'' I had almost forgotten to tell you the Gerants 
are thinking of starting a magazine." 

" No ! Really ? " 

" Yes, really. The project, however, is not public 
property yet, so I must beg you to keep silence 
concerning it for the present." 

" You may rely upon that. And so Messrs. Gerant 
think of bringing out a magazine. Under what 
name ? " 

" They cannot decide. Two have been suggested. 
The Old Bond Street and The Lounger^ neither of which 
I like." 

31-1 Did He Deserve It? 

'* Surely there has been The Lounger'^ " 
*' I think not as the title of a periodical." 
" Perhaps I am mixing up The Old Bofid Street 
Lounger with such publications as The Tattler and so 
forth," she said. 

" Very likely, in any case it does not recommend 
itself to me. ' Gerant^ s Jour7ial^ a monthly magazine,' 
was also proposed, but that sounds no better." 

" Why not call the new enterprise Geranfs Weekly .?" 
asked Mrs. Alston eagerly, '' which is an easier name 
to say than any you have mentioned, and would be 
a better speculation also, because Messrs. Gerant must 
have a serial story, of course, and people do not like 
waiting a whole month for the next instalment." 

" I beheve you are right," returned Mr. Moucell, as 
if struck by the brilliancy of her idea. " I will 
mention the matter at once. There is a very good 
ring about Geraiifs Weekly^ it runs smoothly off the 

This was a felicitous remark. Most women like 
to be thought clever, and Mrs. Alston could not be 
considered an exception to this general rule. 

*' I suppose Messrs. Gerant will want you to edit 
their magazine ? " 

'^ Very likely ; in fact, I might say certainly, 

" But ? " questioned Mrs. Alston, smiling archly. 

'' I do not know why I stopped, since I have no 
reserves with you. Where the hitch comes in is that 
I do not know whether the salary Messrs. Gerant 
might feel disposed to offer would repay me for the 
time and trouble editing necessarily involves. They 
are liberal men, and have been most kind to me, but 

Did He Deserve It? 315 

after all this is a business question, one which must be 
dealt with in a business spirit." 

*' Exactly, and you could make the proposed 
journal such a success. You could make anything a 

" Thank you," he answered, flattered in his turn. 
" If the Gerants find they can afford to meet me, no 
effort shall be wanting on my part. I hope they may 
deal generously, though it is always hard for a poor 
man to secure such terms as his richer fellow can 

" It pains me to hear you speak in that way." 

" Truth is not often agreeable. I hope, however, 
things will come right after all, and then I will do my 
part towards making the magazine pay. Such an 
appointment at a fair salary would prove a great 
relief to me, and bring more ease than I have known 
since I took up literature as a profession," 

" Oh ! you are sure to get the editorship, quite 
sure, and at your own salary." 

'* It is possible. The Gerants are, as I said just 
now, liberal people, and will perhaps see their way 
to treating me even generously if the thing went as 
I hope. Still — pray do not think that ' still' ungrateful 
— I only wish I had money sufficient to start, not a 
magazine, but a review on my own account ; that is 
a speculation which I know would prove remunera- 
tive. It does seem hard to go on and on, working 
ever and always for others, and never really to get a 
chance for oneself ! " 

" You need not let the want of money keep you 
back, surely," she exclaimed. ^' My brother would 
lend you whatever may be needed at once, or I — 

3i6 Did He Deserve It? 

believe me, I should only feel too much pleased if I 
could be of some little help." 

'' The idea of borrowing money for such a purpose 
never occurred to me, never once. The amount such 
an undertaking would require is far too large to ask 
any friend to risk." 

" How much would be required ? " 

Mr. Moucell named a sum which seemed to 
him prohibitory, but to his astonishment — " Is 
that all ? " cried Mrs. Alston, joyfully, " I can 
let you have it within a week without troubling 
Henry. I am so glad you happened to mention the 

" Thank you a thousand times, but I cannot accept 
your offer ; I cannot, indeed ! " 

'' And for what reason ? " 

The chance had come in a moment quite unex- 
pectedly, and if he did not avail himself of it then 
might never be repeated ; nevertheless, he could only 
stammer out, — 

" I could not accept such a loan." 

" Ah ! Mr. Moucell, are you too proud to accept 
a trifling loan even from an old friend ? " 

*' No ; it is only that experience has changed any 
pride I ever had to deepest humility." 

'■ Or rather to the pride that apes humility," and 
her tone was not playful, though she tried to make 
it so. 

He could not answer — speech seemed as difficult at 
that moment as words in later da3's were hard to find 
when most urgently needed. Not so had his love tale 
lagged when he was young, and the hearer blue-eyed, 
foolish Nannie Gray. Glibly enough it had flowed from 

Did He Deserve It? 317 

his lips when they were both taking the path which 
led Nannie to her grave and the passionate suitor 
through such straits of poverty as had almost drowned 
his once well-nigh indomitable spirit. 

Mrs. Alston was the first to regain composure. 

" I entreat of you, Mr. Moucell," she said in a matter- 
of-fact tone, and yet with a touch of deep feeling, " not 
to refuse the slight help I offer. If it will give you 
peace and enable your children to take their proper 
place in the world, I shall be more than repaid. Take 
the money which is of no use to me — none — and make 
an old friend happy." She held out her hands with a 
pretty pleading gesture ; and as he took them the string 
of his tongue was loosed, and somehow he asked her 
to marry him ! Never afterwards could he remember 
the form of words he employed. He had never before 
felt so much embarrassed, so humiliated and utterly 
ashamed. And yet this very confusion helped him. 

It would have been difficult for any woman to refuse 
a man who confessed he was unfit to mate with wealth 
and goodness ; he who was penniless ; who had let the 
cares of this world smother all the noble ambitions, 
the high aspirations of his youth, and it was 
impossible for Mrs. Alston, who had long given up all 
expectation of winning the man she loved, and had 
no thought in the generous offer she made save of 
serving a friend and giving him the opportunity he 
yearned for. 

'' I can never leave Henry," she said — " never while 
he wishes me to remain with him." 

" I could not ask you to do such a thing," answered 
Mr. Moucell, truthfully, for he was quite prepared to 
live with and bear and suffer that troublesome digestion. 

3i8 Did He Deserve It? 

The pair talked matters out to such good purpose, 
that when Mr. Moucell took his leave he felt dizzy 
with happiness, and thought as he walked through 
dingy Soho that he was treading a new earth — 
flooded with the glory of a happiness he never in his 
struggling middle age hoped to experience. 

It was indeed, he thought, a case of virtue being 
rewarded. He had put the momentous question 
against his will — and lo ! he found the lady richer than 
he supposed, more generous than he dare have 
imagined. His future seemed secure, and the future 
of his children also if money could make them 
prosperous ! 

And yet Mr. Moucell had injured a man to his hurt 
— and not helped many a man when he might ! 


Late in September they were married at Brighton, and 
went for the honeymoon to Worthing, where Mr. 
Blackshaw, who stuck to his sister like a hmpet to a 
rock, found such healthful and amusing occupation in 
sending out cards and wedges of cake that sometimes 
for hours together digestion was never so much as 

" The man is lost for want of something to do," 
thought Mr. Moucell, and Abernethy's advice to a 
patient, " Live on sixpence a day and earn it," recurred 
to memory, but he said nothing — already he knew 
silence was his true policy. 

He sent but few cards. " I will write to my friends," 
he said — and he did. 

"Now I do call this sensible," remarked Lady 
Fenland, as she passed Mr. Moucell's letter to her 
noble spouse, " but he had always the most perfect 

" Always," agreed the Marquis, " knew his station 
and kept to it." 

" Yes," returned her ladyship, " and what was of 
even more importance, knew the station of others and 
let them keep to it ; " which sentence, if slightly in- 
volved, was quite clear to her husband's understanding. 

" What shall you do, my dear ? " asked her liege 

320 Did He Deserve It? 

" Call, of course — I have no doubt she is quite 

Lady Patricia did not make up her mind quite so 
speedily, for no once-eligible woman really likes to hear 
any man has married another than herself, but when 
Mr. Clifton Jones, taking the visit for granted, said 
he would call at the same time, she made a virtue of 

" I don't know any man for whom I have a greater 
respect," added Mr. Clifton Jones. '' Just think how 
he has supported and educated that large family on 
nothing, as one may say, and never asked his friends 
for a halfpenny." 

" No ; he would not do such a thing. He was 
always too proud." 

" You call that pride ? I consider it simple honesty." 

"No doubt you are right," agreed Lady Patricia 

Mrs. Eldon Gannox wrote all manner of kind things, 
and Mrs. Wilbraim murmured plaintively, — 

" When we are far from the lips that we love," into 
the relevancy of which quotation Mr. Wilbraim did 
not make any inquiry. 

So Mr. Moucell's connection took the views of the 
marriage each after his and her kind. Some were 
envious, some surprised, some indignant, but as a rule 
people were pleased, and a general chorus resounded in 
praise of the good taste and good sense which dictated 
that quiet out-of-town wedding ; which was really Mr. 
Blackshaw's doing, because, as he said, " His health 
would not permit of a lot of fuss," which observation 
showed how the wind in Bloomsbury Square was likely 
to blow after marriage. 

Did He Deserve It? 321 

His desire, however, fitted in to a nicety with that of 
the bridegroom — who did not wish to ask anyone to 
the ceremony, even had there at that season been a 
single desirable person in town to ask. 

What he wanted was to feel his way ; which he did 
so well that not an acquaintance of any importance 
was absent from Mrs. Moucell's first day at home. 

Lady Fenland came quite early and left before the 
rush began. Lady Patricia tried to follow suit, but 
could not by" reason of her husband's perversity ; 
consequently she and Mr. Clifton Jones, Viscount 
Reedpont, Samuel Hardisty, M.P., and several 
other notabilities, found themselves mixed up in the 
strangest manner with bankers, stockbrokers, lawyers, 
publishers, authors, editors, singers and actors. 

" There was enough money in that room to wipe off 
the National debt," said Mr. Clifton Jones, with a little 
pardonable exaggeration. " I always thought Moucell 
a clever fellow, but he must be a deuced deal cleverer 
even than I supposed ; " which of course capped the 
matter and stuck a final feather, or rather a plume, in 
the "literary hack's" cap. 

Joscelyne, who by quite a strategical move managed 
to get her father apart and give him a good " hug " — 
almost like the hugs of her impulsive girlhood — was 
there, and many of the Gerants ; in fact, no one who 
could be commercially or socially useful seemed 
absent ; therefore the motley gathering impressed 
Mr. Isaac Gerant pleasantly, and influenced a remark 
he made to his son the same evening, — 

" I wonder if your father-in-law would care to join 
us as partner ? " 

"Doubtless," said Mr. Thomas Gerant, a little 


322 Did He Deserve It? 

bitterly, " no man likes to be dependent on his 

" Shall we make the proposal ? " 

" I do not mind ; " and accordingly the proposal 
was made and accepted, an advance from Mr. Black- 
shaw providing the necessary funds. 

" Cream " was really the proximate cause of this 
loan. In the very nick of time Mr. Moucell, who 
seldom forgot anything, remembered that a once 
celebrated physician, unkindly called by some un- 
grateful patients a " quack," prescribed " cream " in 
cases of obstinate liver disease. The remedy had 
proved so efficacious, as new remedies generally do, 
that Mr. Blackshaw, anxious to prove his gratitude, 
willingly transferred the sum needful from his own 
deposit to Mr. Moucell's banking account, which 
sum, it is only fair to state, was duly repaid with 
proper interest years after. 

Probably no person had ever a finer chance afforded 
of proving how widely practice may differ from 
theory than that granted to Mr. Moucell, a chance 
he utilized to the utmost. 

Conductor of Geranfs Weekly ; proprietor of 
The Independent Review ; partner in the house of 
Gerant and Co., rapidly striding to the front — what 
man could have desired a better vantage ground from 
which to stroke the fur of coming genius ? 

No one ; but alack and alack-a-day ! Mr. Moucell 
did not see it. 

Instead, when he saw a poor devil with a manuscript 
he merely saw someone to snub, and forthwith 
snubbed him to such purpose that the P.D., though, 
perhaps, a capable and honest enough sort of individual, 

Did He Deserve It ? 323 

felt afraid of taking an article, tale, or essay anywhere 
else for a long time. 

At first the Messrs. Gerant looked on surprised, but 
at last Mr. Thomas ventured, — 

"I thought you once said when you met rising talent, 
you would pat it on the back and make much of it ? " 

'' So I will when I meet it; pat it all over." 

"But surely you do not mean to imply there are no 
good men pushing at present to the front ? " 

" There may be, but I never meet them." 

'' You talk very differently now from what you did 
a^few years back." 

" Things have changed ; besides, when I spoke 
was a struggling writer myself instead of a — " 

" Bloated capitalist," suggested his son-in-law. 

''If you like to put it that way; but the truth is 
I then talked without sufficient knowledge. I had 
seen and felt but one side of authorship ; now I see 
and feel another. Buyer and seller can never look at 
things from the same point of view." 

" That is true ; still I confess such an utter alteration 
in opinion strikes me as very curious." 

" A man may change his mind, I suppose ? " 

" Apparently one man has, at all events," laughed 
the other. 

" I am gradually coming to the belief," remarked Mr. 
Moucell gravely, '' that authorship is a luxury in which 
poor men ought not to indulge." 

" Any inclination that way should be severely re- 
pressed, in fact ? " 

" I think so," — which statement so astounded Mr. 
Thomas Gerant that he retired from the controversy 
silenced if not convinced. 

Y 2 

324 Did He, Deserve It ? 

" It seems to me Mr. Moucell is not nearly so genial 
a man in prosperity as he was in adversity," re- 
marked Mr. Gerant to his son a few days afterwards. 
But the speaker' was mistaken ; Mr. Moucell was never 
genial. Hard work kept him low like a weaned child, 
but the demon of dissatisfaction was always lying in 
wait to rend the likely victim. 

He was never so content in the days of ease as he 
had been in the days of poverty, and it is not too much 
to say that at the last, as at the beginning, he was a 
disappointed man. 

That book he at one time '' only required leisure to 
finish," remained conspicuous by its absence. He did 
not achieve fame ; he did not like taking rank as a 
'' mere publisher; " indeed, it was nearly ten years after 
his marriage ere he publicly acknowledged himself one 
of the Old Bond Street firm. 

For many a long day he figured rather as editor of the 
Independent Review and conductor of Ge^anfs Weekly^ 
but when the time became ripe for forming a company 
his name appeared in a goodly list, among those of a 
number of directors with the needful star attached — 
and "will join the board after allotment " appended. 

No one save himself ever probably suspected what a 
special providence that company proved to Mr. 
Moucell, because he took very good care not to let 
the world know that his wife's money was so tightly 
tied up — she could never leave him anything but the 
little she might be able to save out of income. In 
default of children, her fortune was to pass to a 
distant Blackshaw Mr. Moucell had never seen and 
never wanted to see. 

" What a lot of first-rate people Gerants have got ! " 

Did He Deserve It? 325 

exclaimed one man when the subscription list was 

** Lot of first-rate guinea-pigs," was the answer. 
''Marquis of Fenland, Viscount Reedpont, Clifton 
Jones, H. Eldon Gannox, Samuel Hardisty, M.P., 
Henry Blackshaw," he sniffed. " All decoy ducks, 
warranted to fleece the British public and bring 
Gerants, Limited, to ruin ! The next announcement 
will be a winding-up order." 

But the speaker was mistaken. No winding-up 
order has yet been made, and it seems unlikely one ever 
will be made. 

Through calm and tempest, through sunshine and 
storm, Gerants have held on a steady course. Their 
journal has outlived, and promises to outlive, many a 
more ambitious publication ; while Mr. Moucell still 
retains the Jndependent as his own property, which 
he intends to go on working for any son of Joscelyne 
who may develop a talent for writing. 

His own sons he candidly admits have no special 
talent at all, but they are for the most part doing 
-^vell — Phil in the Indian Civil Service, Edgar at the 
English Bar, Guy in the Army, and three others in 
" foreign parts." 

As for Paul, at the school Mr. Moucell selected for 
his benefit he soon lost all taste for profanity, martyr- 
dom not being in his line. 

It is one matter, however, to take something out of 
a lad and quite another to put anything in ; and after 
a time he was returned on his father's hands as half- 

Then Mr. Moucell confided him to the care of a 
clergyman, whose sermons and manner he mimicked 

326 Did He Deserve It? 

till that divine lost patience, and declaring he more 
resembled a monkey than a lad, cleared his house of 
such an undesirable pupil. 

At the present time he has not quite made up his 
mind whether he will be a missionary or an actor ; but 
as no manager 'or society has expressed a desire for his 
services, in all probability he will continue, as 
heretofore, drifting from house to house and making 
himself a nuisance in each. He is fond of going to 
Kilbrannon, where the inhabitants say he is a 
^' natural,'' andflike him very much. 

Mrs. Howley, by this time almost a " natural " her- 
self, still feels assured he is clever, and "will surprise 
them all yet," — which indeed is possible ! 

Save on board ] days Mr. Moucell rarely puts in an 
appearance at " Gerants, Limited." He is not wanted 
there indeed — writers always preferred doing business 
with the present managing director than with the 
individual who once said he would take them to his 
heart and utter pleasant things wherewith to tickle 
their ears. 

Ever since he had the opportunity of helping any 
one along the rough road that sometimes leads to fame, 
but more frequently to failure, he severely left 
** budding genius " to toddle alone. Struggling, he 
declares, strengthens it, and he honestly believes there 
is no such plague on earth as the person who has a 
manuscript in his pocket. The society of great men is 
still pleasant to him ; rank, despite his experience 
of its tender mercies, is the object of his worship ; 
he enjoys cultured ease ; he feels more weary than 
ever of Mr. Blackshaw's digestion — or non-digestion — 
but under difficult circumstances he comports himself 

Did He Deserve It? 327 

admirably — he was always careful, and he has grown 
rich. He can scarcely be called mean, though he lets 
his left hand and all other left hands know what 
he gives, but he never bestows a penny or shows a 
kindness in secret. 

All that " nonsense" he leaves to Gerant and his wife, 
the latter of whom especially he considers crazy on 
the subject of unappreciated talent. 

As for Joscelyne, she is a happy wife, a devoted 
mother, a good kind sister and thoughtful niece ; she 
has been truer than fine steel to her father, but who — 
ah ! who — shall ever give her back that lost ideal which 
was shattered to bits in the Embankment Gardens, 
and over the memory of which she has wept such 
bitter tears as a woman can only shed — in secret ? 

Her home is one of the pleasantest houses imaginable 
at which to visit. So thinks a sad-eyed, sweet-faced 
woman who crosses the Channel every year to see a 
friend who will not go to Ireland — for Joscelyne has 
no desire to behold the desolate graveyard where long 
grass waves in the summer breeze and Desmond 
Mallow sleeps peacefully ! 

Grace Bellingdon has never married, but devotes her 
fortune, time and thoughts to the advancement of her 
country people. 

So far the harvest has not been great, but " who 
can tell," as Mr. Moucell wrote, "what time will 
effect ? " 

Miss Bellingdon is extremely fond of one she will 
always regard as her dead lover's best friend, and at her 
invitation Mr. Moucell visited Kilbrannon and other 
places where various industries have been established, 
and wrote several pleasing papers concerning hand- 

328 Did He Deserve It? 

loom weaving, the reclamation of land, poultry 
rearing, re-afforesting, and other subjects of a like 


Mr. Moucell was just the man to turn out a number 
of chatty articles on matters about which he knew 
nothing, therefore his little descriptions attracted a 
good deal of attention. 

Amongst other hopeful ventures he particularly 
mentioned the Moss Abbey Dairy Farm, expressing a 
hope that " the good seed so liberally scattered with 
such faith would when least expected spring up and 
bring forth a hundredfold."